Kuaishou faces copyright infringement dispute ahead of Hong Kong debut

Tracy Qu
·2-min read

A Chinese copyright organisation is demanding that short video-sharing app operator Kuaishou Technology delete an initial 10,000 videos from its platform for alleged infringement of music copyrights, days before the company’s stock makes its debut on Hong Kong’s main board.

The China-Audio Video Copyright Association (CAVCA), which published the takedown notice on its website, is a trade body that undertakes collective rights management for copyright and related rights of its members. In November, the group had taken Kuaishou to court for alleged music copyright infringement and demanded compensation of 130,000 yuan (US$20,221). No ruling has been made.

“The association will take further measures to protect its rights”, including requesting domestic app stores to remove Kuaishou, filing a lawsuit and having other relevant videos deleted from the company’s platform, a CAVCA spokeswoman said on Monday.

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CAVCA was established in 2008 to collect fees from karaoke lounges and other users of music. It said Kuaishou’s platform had more than 155 million videos that use unauthorised copies of sound recordings as background music.

The association said in December that it had already entered into a strategic cooperation with ByteDance-owned Douyin, the country’s biggest short video-sharing platform.

Kuaishou did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment on Monday.

Kuaishou Technology operates China’s second-biggest short video-sharing platform. Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Kuaishou Technology operates China’s second-biggest short video-sharing platform. Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

CAVCA’s action against Kuaishou shows the growing effort in China to protect intellectual property (IP) rights, as the country seeks to boost innovation and appease trade partners like the United States.

The copyright issue of Kuaishou comes after its initial public offering in Hong Kong ended at noon last Friday, when it set a record as the most oversubscribed deal ever on the city’s bourse. Trading of the company’s shares will start on February 5.

In its prospectus, Kuaishou said that “from time to time we may face allegations of unauthorised use of music on our platform due to the large amount of videos that are uploaded to our platform, many of which include music”.

China had 818 million short video app users as of the end of June 2020, according to a report released by the China Netcasting Services Association in October. It said Douyin and Kuaishou are the country’s two biggest players in that market.

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