Chinese entertainment industry moves to combat piracy and strengthen IP rights
Published: Jun 08, 2021 11:45 AM
From top: Promotional material for Story of Yanxi Palace and The Legend of Fuyao Photos: IC

From top: Promotional material for Story of Yanxi Palace and The Legend of Fuyao Photos: IC

Movements to crackdown on piracy and strengthen IP protections have been gaining momentum in the Chinese entertainment industry lately. While pirates may lament the loss of illegal revenue, this is a direction the industry must move if it is to remain healthy and continue to develop. 

Six Chinese film and TV companies called for an end to piracy and for stronger regulation of short recap videos for film and TV dramas on Sunday. This marks the third time in recent months that Chinese entertainment companies and video platforms have united to tackle the issue of IP protection.

That same day, Renren Video, or, a popular Chinese streaming service platform offering free foreign TV shows and films with subtitles, was removed from iPhone's App store.

Although the company behind the platform did not make any statement concerning the sudden removal, many netizens theorized that it was due to an IP dispute as the company had been sued many times for copyright violations. 

Copyright protections are a necessary means to build a healthy creative environment for creators in the entertainment industry and so need to be promoted.

Short recap videos introducing film and TV works are often uploaded to video sharing platforms such as Bilibili. These have been seen as malignant tumors that impede on the originals and pose a danger to the healthy development of the industry.

Over the past three years, more than 5,600 works on the four major video platforms iQIYI, Youku, Tencent Video and Mango TV have been infringed upon or pirated while more than 4.6 million unauthorized short recap videos have appeared, causing incalculable income and traffic losses to creators, according to Chinese news website ZAKER.

Production companies need to spend months, even years finishing a film or TV series and hope that in return a large audience will appreciate their works, but these short recap videos offer people who lack patience the opportunity to watch the story in just a few minutes.

These types of videos cater to fast-food culture and have gone viral on video sharing platforms among those who have less time or patience to watch long films or a series with many episodes.

With the rise of these videos, the hard work of production companies cannot be repaid.

You Yunting, a senior partner and an intellectual property attorney at Shanghai Debund Law Offices, said that these short videos are fighting with longer film and TV works for audiences' attention and watch time.

You noted that editing fragments from films and dramas and then uploading these clips online is allowed by law if it is part of a review, but most of these videos are just simple summaries of the original content.