Major social platforms including Douyin and Kuaishou were found to be rife with songs users did not have permission to use.
A Chinese copyright association is calling for strengthened protections of intellectual property rights for music on short-video platforms after thousands of songs were found to be used without authorization.
At a press conference Saturday, the China Audio-Video Copyright Association said it was in talks with major short-video platforms to stop the unauthorized use of music. While the association has convinced Douyin, as TikTok is known in China, to crack down on such content, it has yet to resolve the issue with other platforms, including Kuaishou.
The association said it filed a complaint to the National Copyright Administration after finding that Kuaishou had hosted more than 60,000 songs without authorization in more than 82 million videos. It has also sued the company at a Beijing court, demanding 130,000 yuan ($19,700) in damages for copyright infringement.
Xu Xinming, an intellectual property lawyer at Beijing Mingtai Law Firm, told Sixth Tone that platforms and users should be more aware of copyright issues, and the law should stipulate harsher punishments to deter such practices.
“Rights holders often find it hard to provide sufficient evidence to prove their losses, so courts usually grant lower compensation,” he said. “In pursuit of profits, the platforms tend to ignore the law, as well as the intellectual property rights of the holder, because the law lacks a punitive compensation system.”
In recent years, short-video apps have gained immense popularity in China and around the world. As of June, there were an estimated 818 million users of such platforms in the country. On most short-video apps, users can upload videos and then select background music to add in, with any copyright concerns simply disregarded.
In late 2018, the National Copyright Administration summoned representatives from 15 Chinese video-sharing platforms including Douyin and Kuaishou. Afterward, the platforms deleted a combined 570,000 videos deemed to have violated copyright rules.
Earlier this year, a body representing thousands of music-publishing companies in the U.S. reportedly prepared to sue TikTok for using songs in videos without proper licensing.