Bilibili removes Friends’ related videos following alleged copyright infringement
Published: May 31, 2021 03:46 PM
The main cast of <em>Friends</em> pose for a picture. File photo: VCG

The main cast of Friends pose for a picture. File photo: VCG

Chinese video-streaming platform Bilibili on Monday removed all videos related to the American television sitcom Friends after Friends: The Reunion ignited a copyright battle with Chinese video-streaming sites on copyright infringement over the weekend.

As of press time, Bilibili has not issued any comments on the issue. The Global Times reporter found that no results were available on the platform if you search for anything related to "Friends."

The hashtag "Bilibili removed Friends' video" won applause from Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo, with some netizens expressing their support for relevant legal rights. 

Friends: The Reunion is a special production from the sitcom Friends, also known as The One Where They Get Back Together. It caused Chinese netizens to go into a frenzy, with the hashtag "Friends" earning 1.13 billion views on Sina Weibo in only a few hours. 

On Friday, iQiyi, Tencent Video and Youku together issued statements condemning Bilibili for disrespecting intellectual property rights, since only a few hours after Friends: The Reunion was broadcasted on Thursday, there were many videos without proper copyright uploaded on Bilibili. Unlike Bilibili, Chinese video sites iQiyi, Tencent Video and Youku have the licenses to broadcast Friends: The Reunion.

Chinese video sites including iQiyi, Tencent Video, Youku and Bilibili have the full-season copyright for Friends, which is expected to launch in the second half of this year, according to a notice Bilibili sent to the Global Times on Monday.

For some video platforms, probably consumers who then uploaded videos without copyright, they need to ensure they have "strong management" to stop such infringements, Chang Yachun, a lawyer specializing in IPR issues at Beijing Kangda Law Firm, told the Global Times on Monday.

Despite the incident, China has been making efforts to be stricter on infringement. The amended Copyright Law of China will take effect on Tuesday, increasing the ceiling for statutory damages from 500,000 yuan ($78,515) to 5 million yuan, according to Chang.