A court in Shaanxi province announces judgement on Sept 28, 2018. [Photo/VCG]
A court in Shaanxi province highlighted protection for heroes and martyrs as well as the need for regulated online behavior after ordering an internet company to compensate descendants of a former military leader.
On Friday, Yanta District People's Court in the provincial capital Xi'an, ordered cartoon producer Xi'an Momo Information Technology to pay 100,000 yuan ($14,500) to family members of the late general Ye Ting for its harm to Ye's reputation.
The company was also ordered to make a public apology via news media, according to the ruling.
"The verdict fully protects heroes and martyrs, and also aims to regulate online behaviors," said Wang Nana, chief judge responsible for hearing the case. "The result will play a role in urging all internet operators and creators of online works to respect history."
On May 8, the company's online cartoon series Rage Comic uploaded a one-minute video clip on Toutiao, a Beijing-based streaming media provider, that made fun of Ye by parodying a poem written by the widely-respected general when he was in a Kuomintang prison.
The original word "freedom" in Ye's poem was changed to "painless abortion" in the clip, making it similar to a medical advertisement. It infuriated the public while it was spread between May 8 and 16.
Ye's family members and close relatives, including Ye's son Ye Zhengguang and Ye's grandson Ye Daying, sued the company in late May, saying the lawsuit was not only for Ye, but also for all martyrs and their successors.
Although the company removed the video clip before the court heard the case on July 15 and its account on the Toutiao was shut down, "the online behavior seriously damaged Ye's reputation, brought negative effects to society and harmed the public interest", said judge Wang.
According to the nation's Law of Protection of Heroes and Martyrs, approved on May 1, activities that defame heroes and martyrs or distort and diminish their deeds will be banned. Television, radio, videos, films, publishers and the internet must not violate their right to a good name, image, reputation and honor.
The law also stipulates that the name and photo of heroes and martyrs cannot be used in trademarks and advertisements.
"The company should have known the damage to Ye's reputation before uploading the video clip on its Rage Comic, but it still did so, which means it intentionally made the mistake," Wang said.
"The reputation of heroes and martyrs must not be harmed in cyberspace, and online works should also take the national interest as priority," she added.
Ye, born in Guangdong province in 1896 and passed away in 1946, was a great Marxist, proletarian revolutionary and military leader.