Short Videos Now Protected By Copyright Law in China After Landmark Case

By Bryan Grogan, December 29, 2018

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On December 26, the first-ever verdict in a Beijing internet court ruled that short videos are to be considered intellectual property. That comes after TikTok took out a suit against Baidu’s Huopai for posting one of a TikTok user's works on their site without permission, while also allowing users to download the video. 

TikTok sued Baidu after the company uploaded the video, minus TikTok’s watermark. The short-video platform sued Baidu for RMB1 million in damages, as well as RMB50,000 in reasonable expenses. 

Baidu said that their actions did not constitute copyright infringement because videos uploaded to TikTok are too short to be called original content. 

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Image via bjinternetcourt.gov.cn

Replying to this, the court stated that it does not matter how long the videos are, nor whether the video follows the same theme as another short-video, but rather that the act of creating short-videos requires a certain amount of skill, considering the extreme restrictions on time limits. They ultimately stated that the unauthorized use of short videos can be deemed as copyright infringement.

However, because Baidu deleted the video upon request from TikTok, their use of the video did not constitute copyright infringement. The court later went on to advise both sides of the correct use of watermarks on their websites. 

The verdict is considered a landmark for short video content creation as it clearly establishes a precedent surrounding the creation of short video content for users and platforms to follow in future cases. 

Song Chunfeng, legal representative for TikTok, praised the decision as further progress in promoting and exploring suitable copyright protection for the short video industry, while also protecting the legal rights and creative enthusiasm of short video creators.

[Cover image by Bryan Grogan/That's]

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