On November 25, the Beijing Internet Court made a first-instance judgment on the Youku v. Kuaishou case regarding infringement of a TV series “Skate Into Love.” Youku won the case and was compensated 460,000 yuan ($72,193).
Skate Into Love was released on Youku since March 19, 2020, and Zhejiang Satellite TV and Jiangsu Satellite TV broadcast it simultaneously. Youku owns the exclusive right to spread content of this TV drama online in mainland China. The platform notified Kuaishou to take relevant preventive measures with a warning letter and email on the day of launch, so Kuaishou could shield infringing information and avoid illegal activity.
However, the day after the broadcast, when searching for Skate Into Love on the Kuaishou app, users could find numerous examples of infringing content in various forms, such as short cuts and whole episodes. Since then, Youku has repeatedly sent infringement notifications and required Kuaishou to delete content infringing this TV drama. Still, Kuaishou allowed its users to upload TV dramas. Youku found 607 complete episodes during the period, and this was just extracted from the 30 Kuaishou accounts it searched for. These 30 accounts attracted a broadcast volume exceeding 33 million.
The Beijing Internet Court held that Kuaishou was obliged to work on and try its best to prevent users from uploading infringing videos through keyword search, but Kuaishou didn’t take corresponding measures to stop infringement after receiving the notification letter. Instead, it helped infringement and should bear legal responsibility.
It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time that short video platforms have been sued for infringement. In August, Tencent Video found that in the Douyin app, numerous unauthorized videos were handled and cut from the hit drama Crime Crackdown. The company then sued Douyin in court, demanding compensation for economic losses and rights protection expenses totaling 100 million yuan.
In September, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court made a second-instance judgment on Kuaishou’s infringement of Ming Dynasty TV drama, upheld the original judgment, and sentenced Kuaishou to compensate Youku for economic losses of 280,000 yuan and reasonable expenses of 10,000 yuan.
The short video platforms have long infringed rights by copying, cutting and recreating content. On April 9 this year, 53 film and television companies, five video platforms and 15 film and television industry associations issued a joint statement, announcing to launch centralized and necessary legal rights protection actions against unauthorized editing, cutting, handling and dissemination of film and television works on the internet.
Tencent emailed ByteDance’s short video platform Douyin on November 11, saying that Tencent‘s Creation Service Platform now plans to gradually open up authorized and compliant copyrighted content and creation tools to creators, enabling them to create secondary works on a legal and compliant basis.