Qiao Yitang was worried along the way, seeing that the post was pushed to the top of Weibo, more and more people poured into the comment section, indiscriminately abusing Tao Xi, and even Wenhua No.1 High School and CAC organizers were scolded.
She glanced at Tao Xi, who actually closed his eyes and leaned on the back of the chair to rest up his mind. She suddenly turned off the phone angrily, thinking that this kid might have been possessed by Lin Qinhe, such a big thing could be ignored.
The taxi finally drove to Qiao’s house. Qiao Yitang and Tao Xi got out of the car. She pulled Tao Xi into the door and rushed to complain to her grandpa for a solution, but when Qiao Henian saw Tao Xi, he grabbed his ear and shouted:
“You little brat, how many times have I told you not to draw the competition draft in other people’s place, lock the painting and don’t leave it casually but you’ve turned a deaf ear to it! Now you’ve been copied and you’ve been slapped!”
The calmness on Tao Xi’s face disappeared, and he hurriedly begged for mercy: “I was wrong, I was wrong grandpa.”
Zhong Qiusheng, who was teasing the parrot in the living room, came over and calmly said to Tao Xi, “I have already talked to the chairman of this year’s jury. Later you will have a video conference with them, give them the evidence and talk about your creative ideas, they will understand at a glance.”
Qiao Henian let go of Tao Xi’s ears and slapped him again on the back: “Go and bring the copyright certificate that you have done before!”
Tao Xi hurriedly ran upstairs.
Qiao Yitang, who was completely confused about the situation, looked at his grandfather and then at Zhong Qiusheng, who was here for some reason, and asked in a daze, “What copyright certificate?”
It was only when Tao Xi came over with the certificate and went to the study with Zhong Qiusheng to have a video conference with the jury of the CAC organizer that Qiao Yitang finally understood what was going on from his grandfather.
Half a month ago, Tao Xi went to Qiao’s house after finishing the competition draft, and went to register the copyright of the painting with Qiao Henian. It was reasonable that an artistic work automatically owned the copyright from the moment it was completed, but if it was not published publicly, it was difficult to prove that the work was the author’s original and pioneering work. There were countless examples of exploiting this loophole to steal the results of others.
If Tao Xi wanted to participate in the competition, it was naturally impossible for him to publish his work publicly in advance, but he registered the copyright so it was different. The creation completion date on the copyright certificate was far earlier than Feng Yadong’s publication in the Golden Cup, and Feng Yadong could never have published evidence earlier than him.
Not only that, Tao Xi also visited Zhong Qiusheng with Qiao Henian on that day. This painting master had served as the chairman and consultant of the CAC jury for many years. This time, CAC had received a lot of reports, and if Zhong Qiusheng had not guaranteed Tao Xi’s participation, it was very likely that Tao Xi’s drawings would have been removed first due to the pressure of public opinion.
The meeting lasted for half an hour. During the whole process, Tao Xi was the only one who spoke to the CAC jury on camera, while Zhong Qiusheng just sat far away and watched.
Tan Shan, the chairman of this year’s jury, was also a student of Zhong Qiusheng, but he didn’t shield Tao Xi with his personal feelings, and asked him many questions with a serious face. Throughout the process Tao Xi was calm and unhurried, showing the jury his creative ideas and details, as well as his many “evidences” of his originality.
One of the pieces of evidence eased the faces of the judges. Tan Shan even made a joke to Tao Xi: “You’re so young, you’ve actually prepared everything. Now, the people who slander you will have nothing to say.”
After the meeting, Qiao Yitang quickly walked into the study and asked Tao Xi, “What did the jury say? It should believe you now, right?”
Tao Xi nodded and said calmly, “I will keep my work.”
Qiao Yitang breathed a sigh of relief and almost jumped for joy: “Great! You can still continue to participate in the semi-final!”
Tao Xi respectfully thanked Zhong Qiusheng. This time it was because of Zhong Qiusheng’s help, Zhong Qiusheng kindly patted Tao Xi’s shoulder and said with a smile: “I can’t help you with the online stuff, I believe you can handle it yourself.
Tao Xi sent Zhong Qiusheng to the living room downstairs, and then joined Qiao Yitang in the study to discuss how to send a counterattack weibo post.
“It should be enough to have this certificate, ba. Feng Yadong definitely can’t come up with evidence for earlier publication.” Qiao Yitang sat in front of the computer to draft a long Weibo post, placing the photo of the certificate in the first entry.
“But he can continue to stir up nonsense, saying that it was his negligence not leaving evidence of the first creation and then backtrack.” Tao Xi sat aside and supported his chin, calmly analyzing.
Qiao Yitang frowned and thought for a while. Indeed, as Tao Xi said, although from a legal point of view, Tao Xi had absolute copyright and could directly sue the other party for infringement and defamation, but the other party apparently bought a lot of water army and stirred up muddy water on the Internet as a vulnerable person. It was not impossible that it was a deliberate and premeditated attempt to slander Tao Xi’s copyright registration by disturbing the muddy water on the Internet. After all, this kind of thing has happened before.
She was thinking hard when she suddenly saw Tao Xi holding the mouse and opening the painting he had created. The details of the painting on the large computer screen were in full view.
“Take a closer look at the painting, can you find anything?” Tao Xi looked at her, curled his mouth and smiled.
Qiao Yitang stared at the painting in a daze. This was an abstract oil painting called “Self”. She had seen it many times. The style of the oil painting was a bit suprematist, full of seemingly irregular lines and geometric forms, presenting dynamics and collisions in the surface clutter, expressing the exploration of the self and the universe in a limited concentration of colors.
After observing it intently for a while, she suddenly noticed something different about the lines in the lower right corner of the painting. It took up a small proportion and blended in with the whole painting, and couldn’t be seen without a careful look.
“This is?” Qiao Yitang pointed her finger at the lower right corner of the painting.
Tao Xi leaned back on the back of the chair and said without any haste, “This is my signature, in Morse code.”
Qiao Yitang suddenly realized that she could understand Morse code. In the lower right corner, the thickness and length of each line was disorderly, but together they formed the five English letters corresponding to Morse code-TAOXI.
Oil painters had a variety of signature forms. Many painters would sign directly on the corners of the paintings, and many painters would integrate the signatures into the props and patterns in the paintings. For example, in a sunflower oil painting by Van Gogh, the signature was on the ceramic vase. Tao Xi did not sign the name directly, but incorporated the Morse code of the name in the painting.
Qiao Yitang hurriedly opened the painting of Feng Yadong on the computer again, and after zooming in on the lower right corner, she found that the man had completely copied Tao Xi’s painting that even the other person’s signature was drawn just the same.
“This name is the main reason why the CAC jury believed me.” Tao Xi looked at the signature on the “imitation” and said with a bit of playfulness.
The painting could be stolen and replaced, and the publication date could be unclear, but the signature of the creator could not be turned upside down, although ironically, the name did not belong to him originally.
Qiao Yitang couldn’t help but fall back on the chair and laugh out loud, saying, “Even if this Feng Yadong copied the painting, he actually drew it exactly as it was, and didn’t change a bit.”
Tao Xi took a sip of water and said in a positive tone, “This painting should not be his painting. I can see it after seeing his previous paintings.”
Just as an art teacher once said, painting was the same as writing. The handwriting of the same person could be recognized no matter how disguised it was. Some characters couldn’t be changed in this life if they were used to writing. The same was true for painting.
“It’s not him, then who is it?” Qiao Yitang froze, tilted her head to think, “but also, he is a college student and doesn’t know you, where did he get your painting?”
Tao Xi clasped his hands in front of his chest, and asked, “Right, where did he get it?”
Qiao Yitang suddenly turned her head to look at Tao Xi, who had been terribly calm from the beginning. She narrowed her eyes and asked, “Do you already know who did it?”
She even had an even more absurd idea. After painting the competition draft, he immediately applied for copyright registration, and then took the painting to meet with CAC’s previous judges chairman Zhong Qiusheng. The Morse code of his own name was also left in the painting, leaving no trace…Perhaps it could be explained that this person was extremely cautious, but how could such a cautious person accidentally leak out his paintings?
Just like a prophet.
Tao Xi shook his head, looking innocent: “I don’t know.”
Qiao Yitang was suspicious but only said: “Let’s check later, let’s slap this Feng Yadong in the face first.”
The two began to write a long Weibo post. Tao Xi wrote the clarification text himself and Qiao Yitang helped Tao Xi organize the timeline and evidence on the computer. In addition to the copyright certificate, there were also daily progress photos taken by Tao Xi from the first day of the first draft of the painting, each of which was labeled with a date to clearly show the complete creation process of the painting.
At eight o’clock in the evening, a newly registered Weibo account posted a long article with a title of only seven words: To the plagiarist Feng Yadong.
The long article clearly displayed various pieces of evidence, such as copyright certificates, creation progress photos, hidden signatures of the paintings, creation inspiration and ideas… In addition, there were clarifications on Tao Xi’s family background, but Tao Xi did not adopt Qiao Yitang’s suggestion to exaggerate how poor his family was in the article. He simply and objectively stated that he had benefited from the remote live broadcast project to have the opportunity to study at Wenhua No. 1 High School.
The last sentence of the long article was: I will hold Feng Yadong and the slanderer accountable in accordance with the law.
There was no room for tolerance for Feng Yadong.
The new Weibo post had no attention at all. Fortunately, Su Yun helped them contact an online public relations company, so that many big V bloggers with great influence in related fields reposted this Weibo, and invited some online media to report the matter.
Due to large-scale online announcements, the number of reposts and comments on this Weibo post increased sharply, and it quickly became popular on Weibo, much higher than that of slanderous Weibo.
The entire Weibo article was written in a rational and restrained manner, without any hint of emotion or exaggeration, the evidence was clear and the matter was clear at a glance. The slanderous Weibo was completely overturned; the person who identified the plagiarism was the plagiarist, and the high school students who came from the powerful and took shortcuts in the rumor was a poor student who relied on his own hard work and good academics.
The dramatic reversal had always attracted the attention and discussion of netizens, especially the Morse code signature in the painting would defeat all slanders and doubts. After all, no one was stupid enough to sign someone else’s name in his painting.
“I thought it was the real hammer,1a slang that means a solid evidence or to have a solid evidence against someone but the result was reversed? Also reverse so thoroughly? I was a just netizen at noon to help Feng Yadong report and curse people, and now it’s as disgusting as eating a fly!”
“I apologize for the comments I sent at noon. The evidence in this counter-attack article is more than on that Weibo post, especially the signature. Feng Yadong, an idiot, not only stole other people’s paintings, but also his name. Will his parents be angry when they know that his son has changed his name?”
“Feng Yadong is really a wicked person. He is a college student who doesn’t have the ability to create something original. He copied other people’s high school students’ paintings and splashed dirty water. How could there be such a villain!”
“This high school student is too smart. If he hadn’t left a signature, he would have been killed by Feng Yadong and brain-dead netizens.”
“I heard that this high school student had the opportunity to study at Wenhua No. 1 High School because he took the No. 1 exam in a poverty-stricken county. If Feng Yadong succeeds in this matter today, he will most likely be driven back and his life will be ruined. I strongly support him to sue Feng Yadong severely! This kind of rubbish is not worthy of continuing to waste national educational resources.”
“I seriously suspect that Feng Yadong’s previous awards are also fake. Can anyone help to check it out?”
“How can a scum like Feng Yadong come out of Wenhua Academy of Fine Arts? If he’s not expelled, won’t he continue to harm others?
Netizens who were fooled by jokes were furious. The comment area of slander Weibo was full of fierce condemnation and insults. Feng Yadong’s Weibo trumper account was picked up and posted in the comment area. Every Weibo post was found by netizens to scold him, and the latest selfie post was scolded particularly horribly.
The official WeChat account of the Wenhua Academy of Fine Arts was also affected by the disaster. The usual good night blog comments were full of spits; many netizens asked the school to discipline or even expel Feng Yadong, scaring the school’s official Weibo admin to open the comment area overnight.
Soon the official Weibo of the CAC Competition issued an announcement, saying that it dismissed the report received earlier and would continue to keep Tao Xi’s entry. The official Weibo of that unimpressive Golden Cup competition also issued a microblog overnight, stating that it had withdrawn Feng Yadong’s winning entry.
But a mere withdrawal obviously couldn’t calm the anger of netizens. Someone quickly found out that among the many competitions Feng Yadong had participated in over the past two years, several paintings were actually copied from the works of domestic and foreign creators, and most of his seemingly glamorous resumes were actually fake. Some people contacted these creators who had been plagiarized, and one of the painters expressed that they would sue Feng Yadong.
It was nearly nine o’clock when they finished everything. Qiao Yitang kept brushing the comments of two Weibo posts, laughing out loud from time to time. Tao Xi told Qiao Henian and Zhong Qiusheng about the situation on the Internet. The two old people finally relaxed, and Zhong Qiusheng got up to say goodbye.
Tao Xi sent Zhong Qiusheng to the entrance of the courtyard and watched the old man leave by car before he breathed a long sigh of relief, his tense nerves relaxed temporarily for most of the day.
He stood quietly alone in the courtyard, stretched his back, and lifted his head to look at the night sky.
Just after a winter snow, the sky was not yet clear, and the moon was half-hidden in the slowly flowing thin clouds, soft and hazy.
Suddenly he missed Lin Qinhe a little. After a busy day today, he and Lin Qinhe only had time to communicate on WeChat.
The phone vibrated, Tao Xi quickly took out the phone and looked at it, it was Lin Qinhe’s call.
“Let’s talk about it, I can solve it by myself!” Tao Xi jumped onto the stone table and sat down, and said with his chin slightly raised, his voice couldn’t hide his pride.
Lin Qinhe’s voice was deep and still somewhat serious: “This matter has not been completely resolved, I have contacted a lawyer who will help you sue Feng Yadong, and the anonymous slanderer.”
He paused, and his voice became deeper, “The instigator behind, what do you want to do with it?”
Tao Xi lowered his gaze, and said after being silent: “If I want him to be held accountable too, would it be difficult for you?”
He didn’t say who the instigator was, because it was tacit.
Feng Yadong was just a cover. Who stole his paintings, who copied them, and who hired Feng Yadong, these questions had long been clear to him.
Lin Qinhe said without much hesitation, “I said, whatever you want to do, go ahead and do it, don’t worry about me being in a difficult situation.”
Tao Xi remembered that Lin Qinhe had said that he would unconditionally favor him. He raised his head and looked at the furry moon in the sky, shaking his legs, and laughing again:
“Okay, then you take part in the competition, I’ll wait for you to come back.”
The two talked for a while. Tao Xi seemed to have endless words to say, and when he finally didn’t have anything to say, he simply stayed quiet with Lin Qinhe, listening to each other’s breathing.
Qiao Yitang saw a funny comment on Weibo and was eager to share it with Tao Xi. When she ran into the courtyard, she saw Tao Xi sitting on the stone table making a phone call, with one hand behind him supporting the table, dangling his legs like a child, with a calm and pure smile on his face. The kind of dependence that filled the corners of his eyes and brows was completely different from the calmness she saw today.
She was suddenly in a trance. She had always took Tao Xi as the role of being funded and protected by Lin Qinhe, and even after today’s incident, her first reaction was to think of protecting him like Lin Qinhe, but now she suddenly realized that Tao Xi was never a vulnerable and needed to rely on others to be protected. He could walk here because he was smart and brave enough.
After a night of fermentation, the truth has settled. “Those things in Wenhua Academy of Fine Arts” deleted the anonymous Weibo post in the middle of the night. It also issued a special announcement stating that the platform only accepted submissions, and the content of the submissions did not represent the platform’s views. Obviously, in a hurry to clear responsibility.
With the forwarding and reporting of several big V bloggers and online media, more and more netizens paid attention to the matter. Many angry netizens flocked to the voting website of the CAC contest and rushed to vote for Tao Xi’s No. 82 work. Even the website server was overwhelmed for several hours.
Tao Xi didn’t know about it and didn’t care about it. The next morning, he went back to school as usual like all the students. As soon as he entered the classroom, his classmates gathered all of a sudden to celebrate his “victory over the wrongdoer”,2lit: 沉冤得雪 – redress an injustice and get a clean slate/injustice undone and the joy was much more enthusiastic than the parties involved.
“I told you Xi ge would be fine!” Bi Chengfei clasped Tao Xi’s shoulders and shouted, “I was so damned happy to see that reversal last night, I even used my main account to scold that idiot Feng Yadong!”
Jin Jing also paid attention to the incident for one night and stayed up for a while. At this moment, she smiled at Tao Xi with two dark circles under her eyes: “This thing about you is really thrilling. I was so angry too when I saw it at noon yesterday. I was worried that you could not clarify it. Fortunately, you were well prepared and beat him in the face and didn’t let the villain succeed!”
Li Xiaoyuan was the most thoughtful. Apart from joy, he asked Tao Xi with concern: “I think the Weibo has been deleted. Will they deny it later?”
Tao Xi smiled and said, “It’s okay, the lawyer has already collected the evidence, even if it is deleted, it will be useless.”
Everyone was relieved and started chattering again about voting for Tao Xi.
The class president, Li Xiaoyuan, had already called on the class to vote for Tao Xi in the class group, and the popular student Bi Chengfei had set up a “CAC voting team” to spread the voting link around among the students in the school. Huang Qing, who had always been alone, had also posted the voting QR code on the glass door of her family’s milk tea store.
Tao Xi knew that voting had little impact, but he still expressed his sincere gratitude to the classmates. He sent several big red envelopes in a row to the group, all of which lasted for a second. After sending those, he had no money left on his WeChat.
In fact, since he was slandered for stealing the earphones, he was wary of many people in the class, but this time the class was on his side from the beginning. It was unexpected and moved him very much.
During the break in the morning, Zhou Qiang came to the classroom and found Tao Xi to speak in a quiet corner with no one.
“Don’t worry, the school attaches great importance to this matter. Principal Qiao specifically said in the morning meeting that he will support you in defending your rights. If you need any help, just tell me and I will report it to the school.” Zhou Qiang said to Tao Xi.
Principal Qiao would of course attach importance to this matter. In addition to Tao Xi’ being his father’s student, this matter had too much influence and too much trouble. If Tao Xi’s evidence was not conclusive enough to reverse the matter, then the reputation of Wenhua No. 1 High School would be affected. Tao Xi’s identity was also implicated in the remote live broadcast project that the government had just approved. No school leader wanted to stain this project.
In addition, this matter was also very suspicious. How could the painting from Wenhua No. 1 High School student be plagiarized by students from an unrelated university in Wenhua Academy of Fine Arts? Who stole Tao Xi’s paintings? As long as you think deeply about these problems, you would notice something was wrong.
“Tao Xi, remember carefully, who did you come into contact with when you were painting? Have you ever painted outside of school? ” Zhou Qiang asked the question that both he and the school leaders had.
Tao Xi looked up at Zhou Qiang and said, “I have only painted in the dormitory, and the painting has always been in the dormitory.”
“Only in the dormitory?”
Zhou Qiang had a guess in his mind. He was the one who took Tao Xi during the dormitory check-in. Worried that Tao Xi did not fit in, he paid special attention to this matter. He remembered that there were two roommates, a Class 2 student and an art class student. At first glance, it might seem that they were more likely to be students in the art class.
Seeming to see his suspicions, Tao Xi said to him, “It won’t be Pan Yan. Although he also studies painting, he has a good relationship with me.”
Zhou Qiang immediately understood that Tao Xi actually had a suspect. He nodded his head seriously and said: “You can rest assured that if it’s the student in our school that stole your painting in the dormitory, the school will never tolerate him. I will go back and talk to the principal and start investigating this matter immediately.”
Tao Xi thanked Zhou Qiang and soon the class bell rang. He walked toward the classroom along the stream of people, and glanced into the door as he passed the second class classroom.
Xu Ziqi sat in the first row, and when he met his gaze, his complexion suddenly turned pale and his eyes even frightened.
Tao Xi raised the corner of his mouth and smiled at Xu Ziqi, then averted his gaze and continued to walk towards the first classroom.
- 1a slang that means a solid evidence or to have a solid evidence against someone
- 2lit: 沉冤得雪 – redress an injustice and get a clean slate/injustice undone