Wild Hunt of a Kung Fu King
Remember WushuLeaks? Ah! Such an excitement! Mysterious dissidents playing spy games and calling the International Wushu Federation (IWUF) for account over the issues no one else dared to mention… Last time something like this happened was 2015, when Mr Glen Keith, the then President of the Oceania Wushu Federation, attempted to run for the position of the President of the IWUF and compiled the list of problematic issues with the IWUF. Where is he now? Gathering dust in the IWUF attic although still thinking of himself as a Vice-President of the Oceania Kung Fu Wushu Federation – refurbished version of the Kung Fu Wushu South Australia Limited. Glen Keith’s undoing was brilliantly orchestrated and left no doubts over who the real IWUF bosses are. Now, WushuLeaks… was just an anonymous YouTube channel with a few published videos (now removed) covering some interesting topics on management, policies and practices of the IWUF. Being slightly amusing and mildly critical of the IWUF (flogging with a warm lettuce, as a former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating would say), the videos were some kind of novelty in the Wushu world governed by an organisation successfully combining an ancient Chinese imperial style with Communist totalitarianism. Fulfilling a role of a Jester, WushuLeaks was relatively safe while talking about issues such as:
- One country, three teams: Macau and Hong Kong, while formally being integral parts of China, form their own Wushu teams for the World Championships. So, is it fair? asked WushuLeaks.
- Wushu enters the 2022 Youth Olympics in Dakar (postponed to 2026). Great news but why would it be the least spectacular Wushu disciplines such as Tai Chi? WushuLeaks is not happy again…
- IWUF Technical Committee – Committee of competence or convenience? What a stupid question, WushuLeaks!
- Organisational incompetence. Well, a few glitches in a system don’t ruin the whole magnificent show, do they?
Even with issues of this magnitude being addressed in the WushuLeaks’ videos, one could expect some prosecution from the IWUF which is not exactly tolerant to dissent. Still, the 2021 news of the IWUF trying to find and punish WushuLeaks operators, was really stunning. Apparently, having failed to identify the people behind the Youtube channel, IWUF requested Google (Youtube’s owner) to reveal the personal details of the WushuLeaks’ owner(s). Google’s lawyers were reluctant to do so voluntarily but agreed to produce the details on a suitably formulated Court order, probably hoping that the matter will never get to this point. Little did they know that a IWUF Vice-President Walt Missingham, a man behind the hunt for WushuLeaks, has an extreme passion for litigation and, together with his sidekick lawyer Mr Paul Horvath, does not take “No” for an answer. Indeed, Messrs Missingham and Horvath obtained such an order in no time at all (It is still not clear whether IWUF Executive Board was aware of this adventure). In a counter-intuitive move, they chose the Federal Court of Australia as a principal battleground.
The Court heard that IWUF had copyright in the materials published by WushuLeaks, and that these materials were accompanied by defamatory comments carrying imputations that IWUF is a corrupt organisation, that it manipulated competition results and that it corruptly accepted payments for favourable judging.
Justice Rofe held that the material before the Court demonstrated that IWUF may have a claim for relief for copyright infringement against the operator of the Wushuleaks channel in respect of the unauthorised reproduction of its copyright material including its footage and photographs and that IWUF held a reasonable belief in this respect. Her Honour also held that the material demonstrated that IWUF may be able to show that the commentary in the videos posted on the Wushuleaks channel carries the imputations alleged and that they may tend to lower the IWUF’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of the general public.
As a result, Justice Rofe made orders for preliminary discovery in favour of the IWUF against Google LLC, so that IWUF could ascertain the entity responsible for the operation of the Wushuleaks [1,2].
The Court Judgment immediately attracted attention of world-wide copyright experts who recognised the efforts of IWUF as a masked attempt to “hunt down” critics [3,4]. Such an attention was not likely to be envisaged by Mr Missingham who had to engage Australian media [5,6] to present IWUF in a more positive light, more than a week after the judgment. The Sydney Morning Herald article was accompanied by a photo of Mr Missingham sparring with Kung Fu legend Dan Inosanto. What does it have to do with copyright and defamation law? Absolutely correct, nothing! However, the image remains in the memory long after people forget about those cowardly despicable WushuLeaks… The Daily Telegraph published another photo showing Mr Missingham and another man surrounded by two warriors of quite intimidating appearance. A hint? The headlines were also very impressive:
Google Court Battle over Allegedly Defamatory YouTube Videos
Google Embroiled in Kung Fu Controversy
Let us remind you the essence of the battle and controversy: “On 23 July 2021, IWUF’s solicitors emailed Google a copy of IWUF’s written submissions together with Annexure A, and the second affidavit of Mr Horvath dated 20 July 2021 with its annexures. On 24 July 2021, Google replied that the orders as drafted were acceptable and that it did not object to the order in that form.”  That’s it, folks!
Mr Missingham told The Telegraph that IWUF believed that one of the people connected to the Wushuleaks YouTube channel was in Australia.
The “blanket of anonymity” was being pulled back.
“Watch this space,” he said. “Until we have concluded this phase of the action then we will not be moving to the next phase of the action.
“But I’m happy to tell you there will be a next phase of the action.”
That could include defamation action against Google itself over the videos, Mr Missingham said, although that had not been discussed “at this stage” by the IWUF board. 
Nineteen months have passed now. Has Google complied with the order? Has it provided names, dates of birth, residential addresses (preferably in Australia), phone numbers, email addresses, occupations, employment details and emergency contacts of the copyright abusers and mudslingers? You have three attempts to guess…
While waiting for “a next phase of the action”, it is important to understand the real reasons for this battle. Officially, two issues were brought up:
- Copyright infringement. It was asserted by IWUF that “IWUF has oversight and control over all official wushu competitions conducted throughout the world. The IWUF constitution provides that IWUF owns all rights relating to the IWUF name, domain name, emblem, flag and anthem, and IWUF organised and/or sanctioned competitions and activities including all rights relating to their organisation, exploitation, broadcasting, recording, representation, reproduction, access and dissemination in any form and by any means or mechanism. IWUF is also the owner of all media rights to IWUF events, including all television, radio, film, internet and other media rights.“  Quick search on the internet will show how delusional this statement is. There are literally thousands of videos of Wushu Championships, various IWUF events disseminated through hundreds of channels. IWUF would have to create a whole new department to authorise all these videos. Look, for example, at Blue Hippo Films (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClHOiFR7PAgvGeUoa6JLb0w ). Awards:
- Independent Short Awards: Best Editing, Best Web & New Media, Best Sound Design
- Singapore World Film Carnival: Winner in Performing Arts, Web and New Media, Music Video, Trailer/Teaser, and Best Cinematography
- 2022 Zhiyun Short Film Contest: 2nd Place
- Alternative Film Festival: Best Art Film Nominee
- Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift: Best Original Score in Short
- Short to the Point: Official Selection
- GAINESCON International Action, Sci-Fi & Horror: Official Selection ✩ Austin Action Fest & Market: Official Selection
Credits to IWUF-owned competitions footage: None.
Even if some material in Wushuleaks’ videos is actually and seriously copyrighted, there are still questions of fair use for editorial and informational purposes. It is obvious that the channel was not commercial, did not make any profit from IWUF-copyrighted footage and its content would not suffer if all videos were removed and only text / voice remained.
Conclusion: Copyright infringement is just an excuse to stop WushuLeaks.
- Defamation. One particular case was cherry-picked to demonstrate a defamatory nature of WushuLeaks’ videos. It was a well-publicised in Turkey but known world-wide scandal:
“Ersin Metin Yavuz, a one-time employee at a company that helped organize the World Wushu Championships held in Ankara in 2011, has filed a complaint against Akyüz. Yavuz claims that Akyüz’s gold medal was the result of a bribe paid by her father, Abdurrahman Akyüz, the current head of Turkey’s Wushu Federation. According to Yavuz, Akyüz’s father paid a referee and several International Wushu Federation officials seven Rolex watches and $14,000 for his daughter’s gold medal.”  Ten years old scandal suddenly hit the most sensitive strings of the IWUF Vice-President’s soul! After all, taking offence on behalf of the entire Federation is the Vice-President’s job! Any other defamatory material? Not that was mentioned…
Conclusion: Defamation claims are just an excuse to stop WushuLeaks.
So, what was the real reason for the wild hunt of a Kung Fu (Vice) King for WushuLeaks? Why did they have to be stopped? The key was in their last video. Crossing the red line separating a relatively safe territory of mild criticism, amusement over occasional irregularities and trivial facts from a land of real danger, WushuLeaks displayed an act of ultimate blasphemy. They questioned the credibility of the IWUF Ethics Committee! By now, everyone in the whole world should have known that the members of the IWUF Ethics Committee are the best asset of the IWUF. They are beyond any reproach. They are virtually saint! Criticise whatever you want, but not the Ethics Committee. Just. Do. Not.
And somewhere far, far ahead, the World Olympic movement is waiting to embrace the Wushu sport, with all its uniqueness, brutality and sensitivity. Just wait! We are almost there…
- International Wushu Federation v Google LLC (2021) FCA 904 (4 August 2021)
- Cordiner KC, T, Marcus, M, Cunliffe, C & Fleming, N 2021, Intellectual Property Update – International Wushu Federation v Google LLC, The List G Barristers, 4 August 2021, viewed 25 January 2023 <https://www.listgbarristers.com.au/publications/intellectual-property-update-international-wushu-federation-v-google-llc>
- Maxwell, A 2021 ‘World Kung Fu Governing Body Uses Copyright Law to Hunt Down YouTube Critics’, Torrent Freak, 6 August 2021, viewed 25 January 2023 <https://torrentfreak.com/world-kung-fu-governing-body-uses-copyright-law-to-hunt-down-youtube-critics-210806/>
- Maas, C 2021 ‘World Kung Fu governing body uses copyright as a way to unmask YouTube critic’, Reclaim the Net, 7 August 2021, viewed 25 January 2023 <https://reclaimthenet.org/world-king-fu-governing-body-uses-copyright-as-a-way-to-unmask-youtube-critic/>
- Rolfe, J 2021, ‘Google court battle over allegedly defamatory YouTube videos’, The Daily Telegraph, 13 August 2021, viewed 25 January 2023 <https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/google-court-battle-over-allegedly-defamatory-youtube-videos/news-story/2169ce721b27c739306f9b62dbe5785b>
- McClymont, K 2021 ‘Google embroiled in kung fu controversy’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2021, viewed 25 January 2023 <https://www.smh.com.au/national/google-embroiled-in-kung-fu-controversy-20210815-p58iwq.html>
- Jacobs, M 2021 ‘Google Ordered to Turn Over Account Info to International Wushu Federation’, Black Belt Magazine, 19 August 2021, viewed 25 January 2023 <https://blackbeltmag.com/international-wushu-federation>
- Bribery and corruption is part and parcel of Turkishness, yet another Bribery scandal hits Turkey’s wushu world champ, Gagrule, 19 December 2013, viewed 25 January 2023 < https://gagrule.net/bribery-corruption-part-parcel-turkishness-yet-another-bribery-scandal-hits-turkeys-wushu-world-champ/>