Beida Mange accepts Audi’s apology

The Douyin influencer responsible for the original content that appeared in an Audi commercial last year, seeks only recognition, not personal gain.

By ZHOU Shuqi


Beida Mange, the Douyin influencer whose script appeared in an Audi ad, made his presence felt on social media Wednesday. 

Beida Mange – a complicated pun which translates roughly as “your brother from Peking University” - has decided to allow Audi to use his material, free of charge.

“I have accepted their apology,” Beida Mange said in a video on Douyin. “It was never about money, but more about copyright awareness among the public so that original creators can be given credit for their content.”

Small changes

The “xiaoman ad” containing the purloined script appeared in May last year. Xiaoman is the name of a solar term, one of 24 15-day divisions of China’s ancient Lunisolar calendar. The calendar governs traditional agricultural arrangements. The name means "a little full." Farmers begin to notice small changes in the environment: water levels and temperatures rise; wheat and rice seeds begin to swell.

In the video, Beida Mange explained xiaoman to his followers and went on to improvise on Chinese philosophy. He ended the video with a jueju – a four-line poem. The first line was taken from a poem by CAI Xiang, the greatest calligrapher of the Song dynasty. “Brother Peking” wrote the other three lines himself. In a Douyin video from 2020, Beida Mange fully explained how he came to write the poem in tribute to the ancient sage.

No copyright on ideas

Law professor ZHENG Ning said the expression “xiaoman” was widely known and in widespread use, not something easily claimed as intellectual property.  If the commercial had made use of the term alone, the other content of Beida Mange’s video would be neither here nor there.

But the two scripts were almost identical. “The copyright law protects expressions, not thoughts or ideas. If Audi took the idea from the video and altered the words, there would be no infringement.”

Audi did not reply to Jiemian News’ inquiry.