SHENYANG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Nine descendants of Chinese painter Qi Baishi are suing 24 publishers for 10 million yuan (1.3million U.S. dollars) in damages for copyright infringement.
The claims were made against publishers based in Shanghai, Chongqing and other places, according to documents from Shenyang City Intermediate People's Court in the northeastern Liaoning Province.
Qi Bingyi, the painter's grandson and the other eight descendants, filed the suits in December 2007.
He said all the art works of his grandfather should enjoy the protection of copyright for 50 years after his death in 1957, but the publishers printed, published and sold the copies of the works without permission and also failed to pay contribution fees.
The largest damages claim ranged from 100,000 yuan to more than three million yuan.
The evidence that the plaintiffs collected included more than 100 items, including books, gold coins, paintings and seals.
The court began hearing four of the suits on Monday and a decision is yet to be handed down.
Qi Baishi is best known for the whimsical, often playful style of his watercolor works. He painted almost everything, but shrimps and birds were most popular in his later paintings.
Born in 1864 to a farmer's family in Xiangtan, central Hunan Province, Qi became a carpenter at 14. He taught himself to paint. Aged 40, he traveled across China and settled in Beijing in 1917 till his death in 1957.