NetEase Cloud Music Sues Tencent Music for Alleged Unfair Competition

The music unit of Chinese internet technology company NetEase said Wednesday that it has initiated legal proceedings against Tencent Music Entertainment – including QQ Music, Kuwo Music, Kugou Music and other products – alleging unfair competition.

NetEase Cloud Music said in a statement that TME had repeatedly and “illegally” played “unauthorised” songs on its various music-streaming platforms. TME was also accused of copying NetEase Cloud Music’s product design, and evaded or even confronted supervision, the statement showed.

TME’s alleged misdeeds include two parts: song copyright infringement, and the plagiarism of product design, product functions and and innovative mechanisms.

Meanwhile, QQ Music was accused of maliciously confronting NetEase Cloud Music’s rights protection measures through carrying out different policies in regions across China, importing external songs, and launching songs with a similar name to the original version.

In terms of the plagiarism of product design and innovative mechanisms, NetEase Cloud Music said in the statement that QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music had copied its turntable vinyl record design, while the former two platforms copied its friend-inviting function.

NetEase Cloud Music urged TME to immediately rectify its products and businesses and stop all unfair competition behavior.

Regarding the matter, Chen Mo, head of branding and public relations at TME, issued a post on his personal WeChat account on Wednesday, writing: “Let’s continue to focus on contributing to the development of the music industry. Ignoring the facts and quarreling are useless. TME is a group that respects and loves music.” Chen also stressed that relevant evidence was already saved for lawsuits the company has filed.

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The Chinese online music industry has been dominated by TME and NetEase Cloud Music, and the past decade has seen various copyright disputes emerge. In August last year, TME gave up its exclusive copyright at the request of the regulatory authorities. NetEase Cloud Music also reached copyright cooperation with many music companies last year, such as Emperor Entertainment and Modern Sky. The move will also provide competitive advantages for short video platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou.