Tencent asks Douyin to pay 800 million RMB for copyright infringement

Despite an intention of opening services to each other, the battle of content sharing between China’s two tech giants Tencent and Douyin (Chinese Tik Tok) does not seem to be an ending story. Most recently, Tencent has raised the amount of damage it requires the latter to pay for breaching the copyright of its original animation Doula Continent, from 60 million RMB ($6.7 million) when the lawsuit was first filed in June, to 800 million RMB ($126 million).

With this action, the total amount of damages Tencent asked from Douyin in the past six months for copyright breach has almost hit 3 billion RMB ($471 million), with 168 suits filed to 18 courts across 13 provinces in the country, showing the still fierce rivalry between the two video-focused platforms.

Earlier in November, Tencent had sought to interlink with Douyin, offering to share some of its exclusive content with Douyin. The request has undoubtedly been welcomed by the latter, showing the positive actions taken by both amid the government’s call on Internet firms for interoperability. However, this larger compensation has no doubt strained further any relationship between the two companies, with dangers for both in the longer term if they cannot begin to collaborate.

However, Tencent’s latest move came just days after the introduction of the latest regulations on online short video content, which bans video platforms including clips of unauthorised copyrighted video content such as movies, series, Internet drama, and other media content alike.

The new rule has shown a tougher stance by the government on protecting copyright while regulating these online platforms. With new regulations taking effect, bite-size commentary videos that have seen increasing popularity on Douyin are first being affected, showing the pressing need for these tech firms to grow and change as needed in order to stay within the new guidelines.

While being a hub for its own short video content producers, Douyin has also attracted many video editors to post pieces taken out from long video content sourced from third-party platforms like Tencent. It is understood that so far there have been more than 100 such video posters with over one million followers on Douyin. One of them has garnered 170 million likes across 343 drama video clips, showing an already considerable consumer base of these video content on the platform.

It can be expected, however, this content will now be less in the public eye while account owners of the concerned videos might also face restrictions. This could ultimately lead Douyin, as a host, to see reduced traffic on top of financial loss. It will be interesting to see how relationships between these firms grow over the coming months, with collaboration a necessary factor for them all to survive and flourish in the new standards set by the Chinese government.

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