The piracy landscape in China

The landscape surrounding the mass-infringement of film and television content in China has changed dramatically in recent months after state action led two major video streaming providers to shut their services. The Baidu Player (a creation of the internet behemoth of the same name) and the QVOD video player (developed by a company in Shenzen) were responsible for almost half of all video piracy in China at the end of 2013 according to NetNames. Both companies were fined by the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) in December 2013 for their part in the enormous levels of copyright infringement that took place using their technologies.

Baidu, mindful of its wider business interests in China and aware of the small part of its overall revenue for which the Baidu Player was responsible, stopped third party web sites using the Player for infringement almost immediately. QVOD, a company whose fortunes were based almost entirely around its hugely popular peer-to-peer backed video streaming software, made comforting noises but took almost no action until the threat of a police raid in April 2014 led to the company closing the central tracker without which the vast majority of QVOD streams will not function.

Already, piracy link site owners are starting to replace QVOD links with those for different video players but the piracy ecosystem in China is now permanently changed. Xunlei, a download manager that supports bittorrent – and which has been in operation for more than a decade – now dominates the piracy landscape. But there is also a chance that the government will take action against Xunlei, too: the Motion Picture Association, supported by domestic rightsholders, has long campaigned against the level of infringement for which Xunlei is responsible. With the Chinese state eager to placate copyright owners and ensure that China is seen as a place to promote intellectual property such as film and television, Xunlei may be next major distribution service to feel the close attention of NCAC.

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Author: David Price, Director of Piracy Analysis, NetNames