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Tencent Pushes its Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Douyin (TikTok), Raising Its Claim From 9.6 million USD to 125.5 million USD

By Isabella Jiangcheng
Dec. 22, 2021 updated 07:57

Recently, there has been a new development in the 8-month long legal battle between Tencent and Douyin (Chinese version of Tiktok) on intellectual property infringement. Tencent petitioned the court to change its claim on Dec 21st, raising the compensation amount for its anime franchise Douluo Continent(斗罗大陆)from 61.6 million CNY (~9.6 million USD) to 9800 million CNY (~125.5 million USD). The total amount of Tencent's subject matter for suing Douyin over the past six months has exceeded 2.943 billion CNY (~ 461.8 million USD). 

Douluo Continent is one of Tencent’s most profitable franchises and arguably one of the most influential franchises in China from an online fantasy-Wuxia novel. Tencent has produced both an anime and TV version of the franchise and holds exclusive streaming rights to both productions. On June 19th this year, the views on the anime series have surpassed 30 billion.

Tencent applied for a pre-litigation ruling against Douyin for Douluo Continent (Anime) at Chongqing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on June 6th, 2021. Tencent argued that the user-generated content of Douluo Continent infringed the anime’s copyright. Tencent demanded that Douyin remove all infringing videos and immediately take effective measures to filter and block potential infringing videos uploaded by users. Without a substantive hearing, the court ruled in favor of Tencent's request in its application for pre-litigation after two days. 

A source related to ByteDance revealed that between June and December 10th, 2021, Tencent sued Douyin a total of 168 times in 18 courts of 13 Provinces nationwide for copyright infringement, for total compensation of more than 2.943 billion CNY. Among them, there were four cases with a requested compensation of more than 100 million CNY (~15.7 million USD), of which Douluo Continent (Anime) has the highest amount.

Many have speculated that the sudden jump in compensation amount could be attributed to the recently released mandates for online short videos. China Netcasting Services Association (中国网络视听节目服务协会) announced China’s Standards and Detailed Rules for the Review of Online Short Video Content (网络短视频内容审核标准细则)on Dec 15th. The new standards specifically highlighted that ‘unauthorized editing or adaptation of films, TV series, web series, and other types of audiovisual programs and clips’ are strictly forbidden.