The Chinese TV station Hunan TV (above) copied the animation from Panop Koonwat's student film "Cupidiculous" (below) without permission.
The Chinese TV station Hunan TV (above) copied the animation from Panop Koonwat’s student film “Cupidiculous” (below) without permission.

Filmmaker Panop Koonwat made a startling discovery last week when he learned that the animation from his graduation film Cupidiculous had been copied frame-by-frame by one of China’s largest broadcasters Hunan TV. Not only that, but the nearly identical remake of his work was being used as a video backdrop for a Chinese New Year’s TV extravaganza.

Here is Koonwat’s original film that he produced last year at the School of Visual Arts in New York City:

And here’s the shameless pilfering of his work by Hunan TV. The rip-off of his animation begins around the 8-minute mark:

Koonwat, a Thai artist who recently moved back to Bangkok, Thailand, to become a partner in the design studio Fuum, has limited options to deal with the situation. Chinese designers routinely copy the work of others without permission—even Conan O’Brien has been the target of an artistic swipe—and China’s legal system provide little recourse for outsiders to pursue copyright lawsuits.

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However, in this particular instance, the unauthorized borrowing is being exposed thanks to a grassroots effort by Koonwat’s Chinese classmates from the School of Visual Arts. Yesterday the school’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association posted an interview with Koonwat to Chinese social media networks, and they’ve also started a hashtag (#湖南卫视跨年抄袭) in Chinese social media to draw attention to Hunan TV’s theft.