Chapter 541: Settling scores!
At the dining table, the family of three enjoyed their dumplings.
After the announcement of the news of the SARFT's new list of banned artists, Zhang Ye was informed of it by his eldest younger sister who called him. It was only after her call that he found out about the big news and he hurriedly rushed onto the internet to verify it. When he saw it, he suddenly burst out laughing.
His mother asked, "Why did your sister call you for?"
Zhang Ye laughed and said, "The SARFT has lifted my ban."
"When did this happen?" His mother put down her chopsticks when she heard this.
"Just a while ago. The list no longer has my name on it." Zhang Ye was feeling in such a great mood that he stuffed two dumplings into his mouth at the same time with his chopsticks.
His father also stopped eating and said, "Does that mean that from today on, no one will be able to stop you from appearing on television, doing your own programs or publishing books?"
His mother said, "Of course, if he is no longer banned, who would care about those! This is great, it's already been so many days, but my son is finally free now. Little Ye, was it Chief Wu who helped you?"
"It has to be," Zhang Ye said.
His mother rapped the surface of the table forcefully with her hand. "I really like that Chief Wu! Invite her over for dinner some time. I will cook to thank her myself."
His father interrupted and said, "Forget it. Do you even know how high Chief Wu's rank is? Why would she come here for dinner? Do you think she lacks any dinner invitations?"
"That's true, I don't think we can get her here with an invite either," his mother said.
His father looked at him. "Remember to send your thanks to Chief Wu."
Zhang Ye sighed. "I know, the two of you don't need to worry about that."
Later in the afternoon.
Having just had his ban lifted, he received a phone call almost immediately.
It was not a number he was familiar with, and the voice on the other side was a woman.
"Hello, may I know if this is Teacher Zhang Ye?"
"That's me, who is this?" Zhang Ye headed back to his room to take the call.
"Teacher Zhang, how are you? My name is Li Mei and I'm with Eastern Publishing Firm." She sounded a little cautious over the phone, like a young and inexperienced worker.
Zhang Ye felt a realization as he said, "Publishing firm? Oh, what's the matter?"
Li Mei paused for a short moment before saying softly, "It's like this. I would first like to ask you if the copyright to Legend of Wukong still belongs to you? Our firm has just had a meeting and we agreed that we would really like to take up your novel as our new project, but we don't know if we can have the honor of working with you on it. Yes, you might not have heard of our publishing firm, so I would like you to lend me your ear on this matter. We might not be very well known in our industry or operate on as large a scale as Beijing Education Publishing Firm, but our funding and marketing budgets are definitely not inferior to any of those big time publishers. If you are willing to let us buy your copyrights to Legend of Wukong, then we will assure you that we will definitely devote our utmost to funding and promoting the novel."
Zhang Ye laughed and said, "The copyright has not been sold yet, but I would like to hold on to it for now. There's no rush."
"Teacher Zhang." Li Mei sounded a little anxious now. "If you're free, perhaps we could meet in person and have a chat? I know you're busy, so anytime is fine. I can follow your schedule."
Zhang Ye rejected by saying, "We'll see how it goes."
When the call ended, someone from Huanan Publishing Firm called as well.
It was a man. "Teacher Zhang, we've read your latest novel and we like it very much. Could we discuss the rights of the simplified Chinese version of Legend of Wukong?"
Zhang Ye still said, "I won't be talking about this today, we'll see how it goes."
That man immediately responded by saying, "You can state the price you want for it and I will report it to my management. If they are okay with it, then we can sign the contract. We will start on the promotions immediately to push for this novel's sales . Since the whole country is currently talking about you and you're the hottest topic right now, we would like to make use of this to our advantage in promoting Legend of Wukong. The sales figures will definitely be better than usual, but if we drag this on for too long, then wouldn't it be a pity? If you're okay, why don't we meet in person instead?"
Zhang Ye did not flat out refuse him. "Let me think about it."
That man said, "Alright then, if you have the intention of selling the copyright, you must remember to contact us. We might not be the top publishers in our industry, but we're definitely a professional team and an old name in the industry."
Four or five calls came in successively and they were all from different publishers.
Zhang Ye just responded diplomatically to them and hung up.
Then, there were also other publishers who probably did not have a way to contact Zhang Ye directly and had to send him private messages over Weibo, using Tieba, and other methods to communicate with him. They all expressed their interest in obtaining the publishing rights for Legend of Wukong. Some of them even offered to buy out the returned copyrights for Ghost Blows Out the Light and Zhang Ye's Compilation for republishment. They also stated their offers to him, with some ranging high and others lower.
But Zhang Ye did not reply, not because he did not want to sell the rights. He did not have much money right now and needed it for his living expenses, but after the previous incidents with the old publishers for his works, Zhang Ye had lost confidence in publishing firms. He thought that he had a rather good relationship with them before things turned sour. When he got banned by the SARFT, they all came to him asking for compensation, stepping on him while he was down. Although Zhang Ye could understand their circumstances as the SARFT was their overseeing authority, Zhang Ye still felt uncomfortable about how it happened, especially Beijing Education Publishing Firm. He burned this into his mind knowing that even though they were also in a difficult situation and were just following orders, the compensation of a few million was still too much to ask for! Hur, they had really burned the bridges back then!
And just as he was speaking of the devil.
At a little past 2 PM, a call from the editor-in-chief of Beijing Education Publishing Firm, Zhang Kui, arrived. When the call was answered, he immediately identified himself.
Zhang Ye laughed and said, "Why would you be looking for me?"
Zhang Kui was the person who had initiated the compensation for breach of contract. He had burned the bridge back then mainly because the ban by the SARFT had led them to believe that Zhang Ye would have no more future in the entertainment business and would not be able to make a comeback for sure. As a result, his firm had decided to make Zhang Ye liable for most of the compensation terms to offset any losses as they had already printed many copies of Ghost Blows Out the Light when it was forced to be taken off the rack. But it turned out, rather than a loss, their publishing firm had actually even made a tidy sum on the novel as Ghost Blows Out the Light was very popular. When they asked for the compensation amount, they were actually squeezing as much out of Zhang Ye as they could.
But who could have expected the matter to develop beyond everyone's expectations? Not only did Zhang Ye not disappear from the public's eye after his ban, he even rose in popularity and was active every day up until just two hours ago, when the SARFT finally removed his name from the ban list. This was clearly not something that Zhang Kui could have considered, and if he had done so, he would not have taken such extreme measures back then!
Zhang Kui had thought through several approaches before the call and said with a laugh in his words, "Teacher Zhang, we probably had some misunderstandings before this. Actually, when we asked for the compensation previously, it was just so that we could answer to our management. You probably understand that we cannot make the decision on a lot of matters just by ourselves. With such strict ban in place, no one in the industry dared to be slow in implementing the measures to enforce upon the banned artists. Hur hur, but now that everything has turned out well for everyone I would like to congratulate you, Teacher Zhang, on your return to the entertainment business. We already expected such an outcome as we know that, with your talents and capabilities, you would come back sooner rather than later. And so, we can now continue working together again."
Zhang Ye curled up a corner of his mouth. "Continue working together?"
"Yes." Zhang Kui continued speaking in his own world of thoughts, "The 3.5 million compensation previously was just a matter of procedure, but since you've already been unbanned now, we would of course return the fee to you. The firm will re-sign the copyrights to Ghost Blows Out the Light back from you together with your new novel, Legend of Wukong. We will continue working together to promote the new novel well to push it to greater sales and, of course, I will be personally overseeing all of that myself."
Zhang Ye understood clearly what he meant.
Beijing Education Publishing Firm wanted the copyright to Legend of Wukong. As long as he sold it to their firm, they would return the compensation fees and get back the copyrights for the simplified Chinese version of Ghost Blows Out the Light. In other words, as long as the copyright to Zhang Ye's new novel were not sold to them, as long as the copyright to Ghost Blows Out the Light was not resold back to them, then the 3.5 million in compensation would not be returned to him!
They were using money to entice Zhang Ye to force him to sign the contract!
Zhang Ye was still wondering when he would settle scores with them, but little did he expect that they would come knocking on his front door so quickly. They even tried to coerce him into a deal? They tried to get their hands on the copyright to his new novel?
Zhang Ye said to him in a direct manner, "Editor Zhang, do you know why I did not even hesitate when I transferred the 3.5 million RMB compensation to you at that time?"
"Eh?" Zhang Kui was taken aback by this question. This question had actually been on their minds all this time and they'd always wondered about it. If it were anyone else, they wouldn't possibly have agreed so quickly to the terms. They either would not agree to pay or just haggle the amount. Never had they encountered someone like Zhang Ye who would pay up without a question.
"Because," Zhang Ye said, "The losses that your publishing firm will be facing soon would greatly exceed that amount! That is the reason why I paid up happily without any hesitation!" This guy had such an vengeful soul! Having been so harshly treated by the Beijing Education Publishing Firm when Zhang Ye was in the dumps, if he did not return their favor, it would not be his style! After taking a chunk off me, I don't need you to return what was taken! I would let that chunk rot in your stomachs so that you will feel sick forever!
Zhang Kui's face sank, obviously not believing what he had just heard. Make a greater loss? What could they possibly lose? Even if they could not get the copyright for Legend of Wukong, they would just not earn any money from it, so what was there to lose? Hur, what an odd claim!
The call ended.
On the other side.
At Beijing Education Publishing Firm.
Zhang Kui laughed it off and began his work for the day. He did not take Zhang Ye's words to heart. Even if it was a pity that they could not get the copyright to Legend of Wukong, they would still be able to operate without it.
However, the matter was clearly not as simple as Zhang Kui thought. Little did he expect that Zhang Ye's words would come true and come true so quickly!
An hour later, Beijing Education Publishing Firm received a rectification notice from the authorities. They also received another, more shocking notice of review!
The whole firm was thrown into a mess immediately!
"How can this be!"
"Why did this happen?"
More than a dozen published works from the firm had been ordered to be removed from the shelves!
A Widow's Spring.
Tang Dazhang's Compilation: Audio and Visual Works.
100 Crosstalk Highlights: Audio and Visual Works.
Etc, etc, etc, all of them were ordered to be removed! Many of the included titles were newly published works and even included Tang Dazhang's crosstalk compilation which they had just bought the copyright for and spent so much on promotions for. The CDs were already printed and packed but not distributed for sale yet. So how could it be banned just like that? They read through the notice and found out that it was because the content was deemed sensitive and also involved some plagiarized works and forbidden words!
An emergency meeting was convened!
The publishing firm's upper management was all called to attend!
Zhang Kui was getting really anxious this time. "How the hell did this happen? Are there even such problems?"
A female deputy editor said anxiously in an unsure tone, "I've just asked them to check and it seems like the authorities have given a valid reason for the notice. But all of them were just minor issues, besides...those kind of issues have never given us any problems in the past. The other publishing firms are also doing the same, so why did they suddenly review this?"
Another person asked, "How about the other firms? Did they receive the notice to take their publications off the shelf too?"
A youth said, "I've just checked and there's no indication that this is happening to them. The only ones who have received such an order to remove such a large number of publications are us!"
Every one of them were shocked to hear that, "This...."
Zhang Kui screamed, "Contact the authorities immediately and find out if there's any room for negotiations. We must not be forced to take down these batches of audio and visual publications! No firm would be able to bear a loss like this! If necessary, we will follow the regulations and make some edits to ensure that it stays up on the shelves for sale!"
A middle-aged man who was responsible for this immediately headed off to do some public relations. But ten minutes later, he returned to the meeting room with a sunken expression.
Someone in upper management asked, "How was it?"
That person inhaled deeply and said, "It didn't work. Those listed works must be taken off the shelves and no exceptions can be made even if we edit them. On top of that, we must also carry out the recall immediately!"
Zhang Kui was dumbfounded. "Even edits won't help?"
The person shook his head and said, "We have to wait for the notice before we know when it would pass their review. But someone I know well told me in secret not to hold out too much hope."
Zhang Kui furiously pounded the table. "Based on what are they doing this to us!"
A middle-aged editor said, "Aren't they bullying us!"
"They have just changed their leader and a newly appointed official would surely take some actions, so are we...being used as an example? But then, why does it have to be us?"
A wave of dissent and grumbling echoed through the meeting room. Everyone was panicking!
It was ten excellent publications they were talking about, especially the crosstalk compilation. At the crosstalk competition this year, despite it being called off, Zhang Ye's outstanding crosstalks that were beyond this era had created a new platform for the crosstalk industry and drove up demand for it. Everyone was paying much more attention to crosstalk than before and thus the publishing firm had ridden on this wave and spent a large amount of money to release this batch of crosstalk audio and visual products. But somehow, it ended up being banned before it even saw any sales! For the Beijing Education Publishing Firm, this was the kind of news that nightmares were made of!
They were finished!
This time, they'd lost a lot of money!
Just counting the number of works and CDs they had on hand would put the amount in the millions! That was just the tip of the iceberg as there was also money involved in obtaining copyrights, promotional budgets, and resource fees to account for. Their loss was immeasurable as it probably reached into the figure of more than several millions! They were likely to lose more than ten million!
Money was not the only thing they would lose as their reputation and brand name would plummet as well. It wouldn't be a surprise if they were to lose a large number of signed authors in the wake of this incident. Why? Because the other publishing firms did not seem to suffer from any of these measures and were operating fine as they were before. Yet Beijing Education Publishing Firm was encountering all these problems? They had works banned one after another by the censor board? This would obviously make the authors feel a sense of unease, as they wondered about the problems this particular publishing firm had. Just staying around would be too dangerous as the banned publications may belong to other authors today, but would their publications be the next one targeted? They will definitely not look to sign with this publication firm for their next work! This would occur if they suffered a loss in their reputation and it was something that was much more damaging than losing money itself. The foundation of the company itself was shaken to the very core!
Their losses were much more than heavy!!
The female deputy editor suddenly realized, "Could this matter be related to Zhang Ye's unbanning? Our publishing firm had treated Zhang Ye quite harshly at that time when he got banned."
"It's because of him?"
"Right, the SARFT's new leader was previously from Peking University!"
"Can this really be because of Zhang Ye's settling scores? How could he possibly be capable of that!"
A few of them were extremely agitated by this suggestion!
Zhang Kui was now thinking of his earlier conversation with Zhang Ye and remembered his pronouncement. Thinking about it now, Zhang Kui's heart turned cold. He did not know if everything that was happening now was planned by Zhang Ye, but he was clear that this matter was somewhat related to him!
The female deputy editor sighed, then paused and sighed again. "I've already said that we should have held back on the compensation figure back then. Even if Zhang Ye had been banned and suppressed at that time, we shouldn't have....He is an unusually odd person and we must never use common sense to make our decisions. Hai, but it's too late to say anything now."
When they previously requested for the compensation, they knew that their firm was not ethical in asking for such a huge sum. It looked like they had made a fatal mistake in doing so as they handled the whole matter too harshly back then! They thus had affected any chance of working out an agreement with Zhang Ye again!
"What should we do?"
"If we really have to take everything off the shelves, then we wouldn't have any funds left to operate the business. We won't be able to recover from this loss and over the coming months, all our authors will leave as well!"
"Editor-in-Chief Zhang, please think of a way!"
Unable to come up with any solutions, all of them had to take responsibility!
Zhang Kui did not say a word as he knew there was no way out of this. At this moment, he felt a tinge of regret. A momentary slip-up was all it took and their publishing firm had to deal with this devastating blow now. Their futures looked bleak and he knew that his position as editor-in-chief was over as well. The reason for all of these outcomes was just because of a mere compensation sum of 3.5 million? Thinking about it now, what damned value was that worth! It was only 3.5 million! This was an amount that no big publishing firms would bat an eyelid at. Yet it was precisely because of this amount that they were going to suffer tangible and intangible losses of possibly more that ten times of that amount!
Was it worth it?
But at the point in time when Decree #43 was passed, who would have thought that Zhang Ye would be able to get through it without being affected? He even managed to make a comeback to the entertainment business like he had now! If they had known it was going to be like this, would they have asked him for the compensation fee? If they had given him assistance when he was down, not only would they not be affected by all these troubles, they would even have gained the copyright to Legend of Wukong and earned far more money from it. But look at them now! They ended their relationship with Zhang Ye too early and even hit him while was down. All of that had led to the current situation that they were faced with!
Zhang Kui slammed him hands down on the table again, and said, "Try to minimize our losses!"
"What do you mean?" the female editor asked.
Zhang Kui said, "The copyright fees we paid out! Try to get as much back as possible!"
At another location.
Tang Dazhang was just watching TV when his phone rang.
"Hello, Teacher Tang, I am Xiaoyan from Beijing Education Publishing Firm."
"Oh, hur hur, Xiaoyan, how are you? What are you looking for me for? Has the crosstalk compilation gone on sales already?"
"Not yet. Uh, there are some problems with your crosstalk compilation. The authorities have issued a notice of takedown, so...so we are contacting you now to talk about the copyright fees."
"Yes, we just received the notice."
"Your firm wants to recoup the copyright fees?"
"That's right, we..."
"It's your problem if you're unable to publish it. What has it got to do with me?"
"That's because it's down to problems with your works that led to it being taken down. You can't possibly expect our publishing firm to bear all the losses, can you?"
"You don't need to talk about this matter anymore, that's impossible."
"Teacher Tang, you're a leading artist from the crosstalk world, surely this..."
"I've already said it. This has nothing to do with me. I won't return the copyright fee that has been paid to me."
"There are terms on the contract that state that in such a situation, if you don't agree, we can take this to the courts and let our lawyers resolve this."
"Sure then! I'll wait!"
When the call ended, Tang Dazhang had a dark expression and felt disturbingly uncomfortable. Had he not checked the almanac recently? Why did he seem to have so much bad luck these days? When he had learned of Zhang Ye's lifted ban, it had left him in a rather bad mood. Then came another incident that left him highly irritated and annoyed! There was a chance of going to court? What the heck! Just who the hell have I offended recently!
At the same time.
Several other crosstalk actors who had sold their copyrights received similar calls from Beijing Education Publishing Firm to return their copyright fees.
One of Tang Dazhang's disciples said, "What? That's impossible"
An old crosstalk actor who had previously boycotted Zhang Ye said, "Don't even think about it!"
And then there was the author of A Widow's Spring who was also one of the doubters of Zhang Ye in the literary world. His work was also listed in the take down order from the SARFT. Having his work banned had already left him frustrated, but the publishing firm was now even asking for the return of the copyright payment? He definitely did not agree to do so!
A scolding battle occurred between the affected parties and Beijing Education Publishing Firm.
They tried all sorts of ways to force the repayments!
This incident between Beijing Education Publishing Firm and the affected copyright sellers had even made it to the news by the afternoon of the very same day! Some papers published the news report in an unnoticeable corner of their publications, stating that many of these disagreements were even going to end up being fought in court and would last quite a while before they could be settled.
Zhang Ye also found out about the news. Seeing this bunch of people who had looked for trouble with him back then and even insulted him, he could only give a wave of his hands and then move on from it. He thought that nothing interesting would come out of this and just casually hummed a song while sitting in front of his computer, continuing to write Legend of Wukong's spin-off.
It seemed as though his scores with those people were finally settled and done with!
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