Wednesday, January 27, 2010

China's Youku remove copyrighted videos

Last Wednesday, 20th January, Youku announced it was to step up its effort in removing material from its site that infringed copyright. Youku described its launch of a Copyright Identification Management Platform as being a "pioneering move in China to promote respect for Intellectual Property". It is a bold move, and whether brought about by the Chinese government or by Youku itself, it should perhaps be applauded. 

Intellectual property is widely breached in China. Hollywood films are often available within days of their release and sell for around 10 RMB [$1.46 /£0.90]. Entire box sets of popular series such as Lost, Taken and the X-Files may sell for no more than 200 RMB [$29 / £18], and that's not just the one season, that would be every episode. Of course there is a large and thirsty market for such material. Government censors allow only a select few foreign films to appear at cinemas, but the public want to see more. For expats and foreigners it can be exciting as they can indulge in entire series that would be cost prohibitive at home. It's also a welcome relief from Chinese television. 

But Hollywood, the BBC and countless other film and programme makers are losing potential revenue. Of course many Chinese could not afford western prices. A single DVD in the UK might sell for around £15 [165 RMB / $24]. Cinema tickets are beyond many people's reach in China, though from the queues seen recently upon the release of Avatar one could be forgiven into believing the wealth gap in China had been eroded. For those who don't have 120 RMB [$17 / £10] to see a cinema release, it won't be long before a street vendor is thrusting a copy into your hands while asking for 5 RMB [$0.73 / £0.45]. 

Those who have Internet access can see many popular programmes on platforms such at Youku and Tudou. There are literally thousands of videos on these video platforms. A search for the 2009 film The Maiden Heist on Tudou quickly brings up the full film. Meanwhile, BBC series' such as Monty Python and Fawlty Towers can easily be located on Youku. 

However in an effort to put itself in a better market position abroad, Youku has decided to delete such material. "As Youku increases the scale of content acquisition and cooperation with its content partners in China and abroad, so increases the need for a more stringent copyright monitoring system built on more advanced technology," the company said in a blog last week. "With the launch of the new platform, Youku radically improves its capability to identify and prevent the upload of infringing video content by Youku users. Through this system, legitimate copyright holders can take full advantage of Youku's value chain, from content to platform to marketing."

And it appears that the plan is beginning to have an effect. Only Fools and Horses, a popular British comedy series, was readily available a week ago, but has now completely disappeared from the video sharing site. Bad news for expats wanting to view a TV favourite, but good news for copyright holders. The company has a long way to go given the large number of such videos on its site. There appears to be no such announcement from Tudou to date, but it's likely they may follow suit. Whether authorities clampdown on counterfeit DVDs remains to be seen however.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My first reaction when i notice that youkou was removing their copyrighted material was:"Oh Shit! Somebody got to them!?!"

My first though was Government bribes...(Hollywood must have paid them enough to get them to clamp on companies like youku as they left a lot of bad quality movies there while removing the version of it that were properly copied)

Hard to say where the pressure comes from because Chinese youtube clone sites do not have anything to offer to the outside world. the search algorithm do not understand english properly, there is not english support what so ever, meaning that unless they provide something illegal(being part of a country that would never acknowledge the western world as equal) they will never go international or go close to become a youtube. All of these site are only known for offering pirated tv by the western world.

My most educated guess(now that i ve read a bit on that) is that the government was suffering from to many FAKE DVD sales(bribes) lost.

until 3 years ago the only reliable source of western tv in china was: the DVD!

Since the arrival of youku, no need for DVDs anymore... so someone is loosing money big time, that someone is part of the Chinese government as to print billions of DVD you need a factory, and these factory are control by Chinese gov.

I would say that the average amount of fake dvd own buy expat living in china for more than a year is around 500. that's about 500$

(Fake dvd are sold at 6RMB = under a 1$ plus it is impossible to buy real dvd in China)

eitherway there is no copyright law in china, No there is no law in china to protect any foreigners in any ways.

whatever the cause if chinese face a foreigners of any kind in a court of law, the chinese wins. For got sake nike lost a copyright law suit for using a matchstick man in their commercial, as if match stick man was invented by a Chinese guy that was still alive?!@?!?

Basically it's a pain, as i love watching tv in the background playing when i work, now i will need to chase the new video site that got given (usually the cousin of the sister of...) the so called "deleted files from youku" to start their own new little video company and pump up their company startup.