On October 26, the decision in regard to Tencent’s lawsuit against Douyin for video infringement was announced. Douyin needs to take effective measures to delete, filter and intercept related video clips on the platform about the soap opera named “The Worm Valley” immediately, and compensate Tencent for economic losses and reasonable expenses of more than 32.4 million yuan ($4.38 million).
“The Worm Valley” involved in this case is a suspense adventure drama with 16 episodes. Tencent, the plaintiff, found that after the show was broadcast on Tencent Video on August 30, 2021, there were a large number of clips of the play uploaded by users on Douyin, so on September 22, 2021, it filed a lawsuit, demanding that Douyin immediately delete, filter and intercept relevant videos, and compensate the company to the value of 10 million yuan.
This case was formally accepted by the court on October 8, 2021. Before the trial, Tencent changed its claim and raised the required compensation to 90 million yuan.
Douyin argued that the relevant videos were uploaded by users themselves, and it was impossible to conduct a substantive review of such a number of videos. According to the law, the Douyin platform only provides information storage services, and has no content review obligation. The platform has reminded users that uploaded content must not infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, and fulfilled the obligation of notification, so it does not constitute infringement.
The court held that a large number of users on Douyin platform committed infringement. Although the company has taken measures to reduce the number of infringing works, the infringement has not been effectively curbed.
The court’s decision has broken the record of compensation for similar cases with the standard of 2 million yuan per episode and the total amount exceeding 32 million yuan. It is 16 times than the highest record last year and hundreds of times that of some similar cases in China.
Previously, Chinese video streaming platform iQIYI sued short video platform Kuaishou for its drama named “The Mystic Nine” with 48 episodes. iQIYI obtained a compensation of 1 million yuan, with an average of more than 20,000 yuan per episode. The compensation of similar cases in local courts is only between tens of thousands of yuan and millions of yuan.
Since last year, some copyrighted videos have been edited and commercialized. As early as March, 2018, National Radio and Television Administration clearly stated that it is not allowed to intercept a number of program clips and splice them into new programs for broadcast. At that time, some content platforms were shuttered and a large number of accounts were banned.