The Department of Printing and Publishing has issued nearly $10,000 worth of fines against the publisher of a book on Vietnam’s Civil Code that used a photoshopped image of a comedian in his underpants as its cover.
The Lao Dong - Xa Hoi (Labor - Society) Publishing House will have to recover every copy and issue a public apology, according to the decision issued Wednesday.
The book “Civil Code and documents on its implementation 2014” was banned from distribution due to its "unsuitable" cover image, according to the decision.
The cover featured the face of local comic actor Cong Ly, whose name means “justice” in Vietnamese, attached to the body of a man with outstretched arms clasping a pair of scale pans.
The figure was dressed only in a loincloth and perched on a flaming globe.
The Penal Code published by the Lao Dong - Xa Hoi Publishing House drew a second fine for yet another unsuitable cover.
According to the department, the publisher was fined VND60 million because the book damaged the comedian's prestige.
The publishing house was fined another VND60 million for publishing false information and failing to include the "documents on implementation" that are alluded to in its title.
Furthermore, Vietnam's most recent civil code was issued in 2005 and the book's reference to a 2014 code was found to be misleading and confusing.
An additional VND8 million fine was issued because the publisher did not register the book with the department
In total, the publisher was fined VND128 million (US$6,013) for the book.
The department said it would identify and punish the individual who was directly responsible for the cover design.
On the same day, the department fined the same publisher VND124 million for a book that purports to cover the penal code.
The book’s cover features a scale with a clock in one pan and foreign currency in the other pan, which was considered unsuitable.