The movie is produced by Tencent Penguin Pictures and was exclusively premiered on Tencent Video on August 30, 2021. However, many users quickly leaked the content on Douyin without Tencent’s consent. The tech conglomerate filed a lawsuit against Douyin on September 22, 2021.
A court in China’s Xi’an city ruled that Douyin was a contributing factor to the illegal dissemination of the movie. The court issued that Douyin has to pay 2 million yuan per episode, and the accumulated fine for the full series is 32 million yuan. The platform must also handle the rights protection fees of over 420,000 yuan ($58,000).
The court also demanded that Douyin delete and filter any relevant videos on its site.
Douyin argued that the movie was posted by its users. The platform hosts many active users, making it harder to review all the data thoroughly. Plus, according to law, it has no obligation to review content considering its service as an information network storage. The platform also sends copyright alerts to users and reminds them to remove any content that may violate intellectual property rights.
The court acknowledged that although Douyin made some effort, it was insufficient to prevent copyright infringement. Therefore, the short video-sharing site is still considered a contributing factor.
Douyin’s legal representative said that the platform would appeal the decision.
This is not the first time Tencent won a copyright lawsuit against Douyin. Last year, the Chinese tech company demanded 100 million yuan (about $15.4 million at the time) from the fast-growing app over another movie. It also appeared on Douyin through users, and the platform had to remove around 8,000 user-generated videos afterward.