Copyright or copy, right?

By Sheng Xiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/2 19:38:39

Online video producers find corporate pirates, partners

With the development of short, online video, many uploaders find immediate fame for their sensational work, from the YouTube star Sky Does Minecraft to Chinese Papi Jiang.

Last year, 504 million Chinese Internet users watched videos online, an increase of 6.5 percent from a year earlier, according to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center.

But making videos and attracting fans is not as easy as people think. Not only are these users racking their brains to create videos, but their work is also often reposted or plagiarized by others. The Global Times talked to three online video producers about people making copies of their work.

Chinese-speaking video from the UK

Fulinfang is a well-known online video personality living in the UK, with about 660,000 fans on, a Chinese video website, for his funny Chinese-speaking clips about Chinese and English culture. He's posted over 150 videos since November.

In few days, his four episodes titled Do You Think She/He Is Charming? gained more than 1.7 million clicks. In them, Fulinfang invites two Chinese women and five British women to share their opinions on whether a person is attractive.

In the video, the women look at 30-something Hong Kong star Shawn Yue, and one of the Brits remarks, "that's like you're going through puberty and can't grow facial hair properly yet."

The video caused a storm of laughter online. Then, some Chinese media reposted the content without Fulinfang's permission.

Sina Entertainment, on its official Weibo account with 18 million fans, uploaded a seemingly original clip titled Foreign Girls Give Chinese Male Stars High Scores and received millions of clicks.

The editor took Fulinfang's work and cropped. Those who hadn't seen Fulinfang's video thought it was the original. Some users even attributed Sina as the source in their reposts.

Fulinfang's fans found the repackaged video and left comments that the copyright belongs to Fulinfang and the company should cease and desist.

"Unfortunately, their messages vanished furtively and their accounts are blocked," according to fans' print screens in Fulinfang's video.

After some back and forth, Sina agreed to apologize. But it was that next action that burned up Fulinfang.

A scene featuring Fulinfang from his video

Sina Dapian, a less trafficked Sina account with 1.4 million followers, posted by phone an informal and snarky apology about the situation.

"Yesterday afternoon, I found a funny video online, and reposted it for the public. I was just too excited to check and name the original uploader, which is definitely remiss. The horrible punishment from my leader is a diet without meat for a week," the editor posted.

The agreed apology coming from an account with a tenth of the subscribers as the one that plagiarized the video was the last straw for Fulinfang.

So he uploaded a clip titled How to Make a Scoop with Chinese Social Media, expressing his dissatisfaction with Sina and making fun of such thefts by Chinese video websites.

"A better and easier way to hit the Internet and gain attention is to find amusing videos, to download them without any permission, and to re-edit them into a so-called original one with a new logo," he says with sarcasm in the clip.

Among videos of his that have been reshared privately is a clip about Bean Boozled, an English jelly bean with self-proclaimed weird flavors, such as canned dog food and booger.

It was posted at the end of last year and has received with 160,000 views and earned several thousand in online virtual money tips on

"Actually, I don't mind that my videos are reposted without permission for private sharing and by small businesses, if they save my intro," Fulinfang told the Global Times. Reserving their mark is the basic demand of most video makers.

Awareness of copyrights

Like the infringement case of Fulinfang, Jiang Xuan's videos have been pirated by others. Jiang is a 36-year-old video producer and head of a daily-food making program, Rishiji, which is famous for its frame and white cat.

A scene from Rishiji produced by Jiang Xuan Photos: Courtesy of the interviewees

"Some people pirate our articles, pictures and videos. Most of them are private media accounts, and they're going for easy hits without hard work, and they're unaware of the importance of copyright," Jiang said. "We usually do not take action on them, if just a private reposting."

"It constitutes infringement of reproduction and revision rights," Jiang Lei told the Global Times, an attorney and leader of Huhui Law Firm in Shanghai.

By contrast, some bigger media outlets attach importance to attribution and copyright and prefer to contract video producers before reposting.

"Different from private accounts, we have talked with the People's Daily and the Nanfang Daily, and consented to their republishing with our credit for free," Jiang said.

As copy and distribution for a commercial purpose is illegal, when it comes to protection of copyright, Jiang said they would inform infringers and complain to authorities.

Gou Yibing is an operator for ZhangDouZhangHua, a video-making group, and the program Laomei, What Do You Think?.

He and his staff have authorized other accounts to republish their work. They still contend with infringing companies and seek resolutions for cooperation.

Laomei, What Do You Think? is a program developed by the video-making group ZhangDouZhangHua. Photo: Courtesy of Gou Yibing

Preliminary business cooperation

At first, fans sent a screen capture to Gou informing him that YoudaoDict, a dictionary app for mobiles, put Laomei programs on its homepage and didn't credit them, which is an infringement. Then Gou contacted with YoudaoDict, and eventually they agreed on a free cooperation.

But Fulinfang refuses this kind of collaboration. "They should contact me first," Fulinfang said. He says video websites should protect "the copyright and originality of uploaders and attract them, to maintain and refresh funny and engaging content."

To hold and grow audiences, some video websites are trying something different. To show respect to video uploaders, they're sharing advertising benefits or encouraging viewers to reward creators.

Coin and Battery is a new tipping system on Users can give producers a form of virtual money simply called a Coin, and charge a battery - in essence, they pay real money to buy various batteries, which fans regard as a good way to directly reward the creators. put into place a profit-sharing plan. They let users upload videos and establish a channel. The uploaders could earn 30 percent of the advertising that runs before their videos, 70 percent of the sponsorship fee from their fans, and bonuses based on views.

"Currently, many video websites have begun a sharing plan and bonuses for original uploaders, which pays us for our creations and originality, at least," Gou said.

Cultural respect

Apart from the modest sums being a form of business from video platforms, some creators seek cultural recognition and respect.

As a producer, Jiang Xuan prefers to license publication rights for typefaces and music. "We can't force others to respect our work, but we can show respect to other creators," he said.

He cooperates with a young and popular folk band, Haomeimei. Jiang directed their music video in their kitchen, and used it as the background music of the seventh episode. Their followers actively promote the video and music and pushed them to a new high.

With the development of China's Internet market, entertainment shows, TV dramas and music are gradually moving into cyberspace.

Four features of the Internet raised by Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihu360, are consumerism, priority of experience, free model and creation.

The features changed the rules of copyright established in offline life. Besides video, cyberspace is a realm where people share personal opinions, pictures and other products that all face a dilemma of copyright.

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, City Panorama

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