China's online piracy spat heats up
Beijing - The piracy battle between China's two biggest online video-streaming sites is escalating as Youku filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against key rival Tudou.
The issue came to light last Friday when Tudou released a statement saying Youku pirated episodes of a television series, for which online broadcasting rights in China were owned by Tudou.
Youku then responded that Tudou pirated more than 60 television serials and productions from Youku.
It has become clear that the two companies had been discussing this behind closed doors but to no avail, making a two-way legal battle more imminent.
"Youku has continually called for an end to mudslinging PR battles that generate traffic by harming competitors," Youku wrote in a release.
"Since Tudou has repeatedly failed to remove the mountain of stolen intellectual property posted on their site while attempting to smear Youku in the press, Youku now has no choice but to pursue legal action," said Jean Shao, director of international communications of Youku.
A spokesperson for Tudou said it is considering taking legal action and Youku's lawsuit against it was "a trick to distract media's attention".
Market watchers said paying for online broadcasting licenses of television shows is a hefty cost for online video sites and as the Chinese government continues to crack down online privacy, these sites have no choice but to protect their intellectual property rights.
"The main factor between the two companies is the pressure to earn profits as they are both public companies, and video copyrights have become increasingly important to making profit," said an analyst of CCW Research, a China-based IT market research company.
"We'll see more of these lawsuits as China's online video market continues to grow and the leading sites fight for viewers and the best shows."
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