A Chinese court has ruled that the producer of a popular cartoon was partly to blame for the injuries suffered by two children when their friend tied them to a tree and set them on fire in an imitation of a scene from the show, state media has reported.

Two brothers aged seven and four from eastern Jiangsu province were badly burned in April by the actions of their 10-year-old friend, who confessed he was copying a scene from "Xi Yangyang and Hui Tailang," which translates as "Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf," the official Xinhua News Agency said on Thursday.

The seven-year-old suffered burns over 80 percent of his body and his brother 40 percent.

The cartoon features a wolf who hunts a goat and tries to prevent it from escaping.

Scenes have included the goat being plunged into boiling water and receiving electric shocks.

Xinhua said the court ruled that the legal guardians of the boy who set his friends alight and the producer, Guangzhou-based Creative Power Entertaining Co. Ltd. are jointly responsible for the brothers' injuries.

The boy's guardians will have to pay 60 percent of the injured brothers' compensation and the company will pay 15 percent, working out at about $6,400.

Online criticism

The case was a civil one brought by the brothers' family.

Users of China's Twitter-like social networking sites criticised the decision to the assign blame to the company, with some questioning why state broadcaster China Central Television, which televises the cartoon, was not held responsible.

Hao Rui, a lawyer from Beijing Yingke Law Firm who specialises in lawsuits involving the media industry, told the AP news agency it was the first time he had heard of a producer being sued and held liable for a child imitating something seen on TV.

In 2010, Creative Power Entertaining signed an agreement with Buena Vista International for the latter to air "Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf" on Disney channels in the Asia-Pacific region in more than 10 languages, including English.

Source: AP