Two Anti-Piracy Alliances, Same Enemy

Issue 32, China IP,[Copyright]

After this September, every video website and websites with video channels except CCTV.com, Ifeng, Sohu, JOY.cn and Union Voole, will have to ask themselves: Are we piracy sites? Are we going to spend money on copyright to become “genuine video sites?”

If they do not think over these questions, they will receive attorney letters or even court notices requested by one or both of the two alliances, i.e. “CCTV-IFeng Network Video Copyright Protection Alliance” launched by CCTV.com and Ifeng on August 19 and the “China Network Video Anti-Piracy Alliance,” jointly initiated by Sohu, JOY.cn, Union Voole and Huaxia Shilian on September 18.

The first alliance represents television media while the other represents the copyright holders of a large number of films and television dramas. The videos of the two sides are almost the primary resources for the videos necessary of the survival of video sites.

Counterattack of TV new media

The lawsuits in July (China International Television Corporation filed 162 charges against Ku6.com, 6.cn and four other video websites to the courts in Xicheng and Haidian, claiming for 16.2 million Yuan) seem to indicate the beginning of a counterattack from the new television media sources.

“We have always been invaded by infringing video websites. They affect our income and dilute our audience. These websites also influence the audience ratings of our TV programs.” Ifeng Editor-in-Chief Wu Zheng told the reporter, “More importantly, piracy of videos has brought a negative impact on the healthy and orderly development of China’s video industry and the cultural and creative industries.”

Therefore, CCTV.com and Ifeng, as the two new media that had an early start, good development as well as being victimized by the most frequent copyright infringements, chimed in easily to establish a joint anti-piracy alliance. It took them just three months to establish their alliance.

At present, this alliance is mainly composed of new television media (such as Shanghai SMG Oriental Broadband, HunanTV.com, Beijing TV, Shenzhen TV and other local media). In the near future, it will accept more members of the new media of TV stations. Moreover, the alliance would also like to make clear specifications regarding the rights, obligations and responsibilities of members.

“Personally, I think it can help the industry develop in a healthy and orderly way. It will benefit the partners as well as newspapers and video websites that are willing to join the alliance. Those without copyright disputes are also welcomed,” Wu Zheng said. He went on to say, “Of course, all members should work together to form a new charter for acceptance conditions and criteria and to lay out strict standards and restrictions for new members.”

In addition to recruiting new members, the alliance will unite the members in the fight against piracy and establish regular communication mechanisms; the alliance will give support to non-member copyright owners and IPR holders in their IP protection acts; and may also bring legal proceedings against serious infringements.

“The goals of our alliance lies in two aspects. First, we should promote the rights of copyright holders and users in the market to fully educate the public about the harm of piracy, so that pirates can realize that the only way to a good future is to establish and develop close cooperation with copyright owners. Awareness is a prerequisite. This is also our major purpose. In addition, we hope that the business interests of our members, who have been violated by infringements for quite a long time, can win back reasonable compensation.” said Wu.

However, the other anti-piracy alliance established one month later seems to have no patience to raise the overall awareness so as to seek industrial development. They want to leave no living space for infringing video sites.

More merciless brother alliance

The logo designs of the two alliances are very similar. “August Alliance” circles the Chinese characters for “Pirate” in letter “O” of “NO”, while “September Alliance” removes the Chinese character for “piracy” with a slash, which means to wipe out the pirates. Their acts, just like this logo, seem to be more “merciless.”

Different from the membership structure of “August Alliance”, the “China Network Video Anti-Piracy Alliance,” established on September 18, was initiated by three major websites: the traditional portal Sohu, video portal JOY.cn and Uusee. Operating legal copy videos has always been the goal for these three sites.

Apart from the initiators, the alliance also has a “big list”, including the China Film Group, Shanghai Film Group, Huayi Brothers and other 50 movie and television holders; the U.S. Motion Picture Association, Warner Bros. and other 5 international copyright holders; even third-party authentication platforms like Nelson. Besides the three large groups, the more compelling ones are 41 4A advertising companies, including Ogilvy & Mather, McCann-Erickson Guangming, etc.

“The feeders of the Video industry has begun to retreat, ” Chairman of JOY.cn Lv Wensheng said.

On the day it was founded, Director of China 4A Association and Managing Director of Zenith Media in China, Mr. Guo Zhiming, expressed his support for the alliance. He sent letters to the 41 member advertisers, asking them to pay close attention to the ads on video sites and calling on all members to support this activity.

Of course, the anti-piracy alliance is doing more than just inviting Mr. Guo Zhiming for a speech. On the same day, the alliance launched the first round of joint actions. They filed 61 lawsuits in the Haidian Court and requested that Pepsi and Coca-Cola brands should bear joint liabilities.

“When choosing websites, most of the advertisers probably chose infringing sites because they were mislead or out of a misunderstanding. If they knew that there were genuine websites, I believe the advertisers would surely abandon those pirating sites,” Bi Ridong, alliance attorney from Yida Law Firm, said on the founding day.

(Translated by Li Yu)

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