Douyin and Tencent Video reach copyright cooperation,is the farce over?

Communication Author: Lina Peng Editor: Lina Peng Apr 18, 2023 10:46 AM (GMT+8)

On April 7th, Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) and Tencent Video (a Chinese counterpart of Netflix), the leading short and long video platforms in China, announced their cooperation to explore long and short video mutual promotion and short video re-creation. Currently, cooperation mainly dictated Tencent Video's opening up of long video copyrights to users from Douyin and its affiliate platforms (Xigua Video and Toutiao) so the users can re-create short video contents.


Both parties also clarified the methods and rules for content re-creation and release. This cooperation marks the end of the years-long "Bytedance-Tencent war" and has received widespread attention from both inside and outside the industry, with an impact no less than that of Amazon and Shopify's alliance (Bytedance is the company name of Douyin).

This battle began in 2018, during which the two sides confronted at court many times over issues such as content infringement, commercial defamation, unfair competition, and monopoly. According to relevant data, up until April 7th, there have been more than 600 legal cases related to Tencent under the entity "Beijing Douyin Information Service Co Ltd (CHINESE:北京抖音信息服务有限公司)".

In the fierce back-and-forth, both Douyin and Tencent had made exaggerated claims against each other. There was Tencent's claim for one yuan from ByteDance and Tencent Video management calling Douyin short videos "pig feed". There was also such a move in pique when Douyin unilaterally disclosed the email from Tencent Creation Service Center "seeking peace".


Similar to the political world, the business world has "no eternal enemies and friends, only eternal interests." During the years of "fierce mutual tearing", Douyin and Tencent have not really cut off, but have maintained a certain degree of cooperation and mutual probing, whether it be copyright cooperation between Douyin and Tencent Music or the low profile interrelations between the two sides in game publishing. In the discourse of the Generation-Z, "there is something sweet in the bitterness".

This attention-catching handshake between the two giants was made possible by an official statement. In February 2023, at the 7th China Internet Copyright Protection and Development Conference hosted by the National Copyright Administration, "long and short video cooperation" was included in the "2022 Top Ten Copyright Events in China" by the Copyright Society of China, which called for the overall improvement of copyright compliance across content platforms. Douyin has already reached agreements with long video platforms such as Sohu Video (CHINESE:搜狐视频), iQiyi (CHINESE:爱奇艺), and LeTV Video (CHINESE:乐视视频). Now the one with Tencent marks the final piece of the puzzle being located.

Contrasted with the flourishing mid/short video platforms like Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili are the predicaments facing long video platforms such as IQiyi, Youku, and Tencent Video. The latter have been "burning money" with no foreseeable future of making profits. In 2019, Tencent Video, for the first time, disclosed its operating losses, losing nearly RMB three billion despite owning more than 106 million members. The subsequent rise in membership fees did not lead to a turnaround, but instead led to a sluggish growth in paying members.

What "dwindled" Tencent even more was iQiyi's Non-GAAP achieving profitability for four consecutive quarters in 2022, which was preceded by its partnership with Douyin. This undoubtedly put more pressure on Tencent Video. Against the backdrop of an increasingly challenging macro-economic environment, the need to win over more users and maximize the commercial value of copyrights prompted Tencent Video to embrace Douyin with open arms.

Of course, the benefits that Douyin gains from this collaboration are also evident. On one hand, Douyin can get rid of the negative effects brought about by platform content infringement in reputational, regulatory, and legal aspects. On the other hand, the platform can thereafter provide more legal and compliant creation materials for creators, which is a significant advantage in attracting creators and optimizing user experiences.

As observers, we are pleased to see more of such mutually beneficial collaborations occurring in the internet industry. As users, we also look forward to seeing a flourishing ecosystem of high-quality and compliant content. Finally, we welcome Zhang Yiming's return to the frontline and Bytedance's devotion to AGI. No matter how good a company's external efforts are, innovations driven by technology will always be the most solid core competitiveness.

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