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Chinese P2P Streaming Platform PPLive Sued for Copyright Infringement

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The popular Chinese P2P TV platform PPLive has been sued for copyright infringement by entertainment company Beijing Shidai Yingyin International Entertainment Co., reports, seeking compensation of 330,000 Chinese yuan ($47,000). This is the first time PPLive has been sued, but it’s part of a larger backlash against Chinese P2P platforms.

PPLive is hugely popular in China. The service reportedly had 85 million users in October, and it currently offers access to several hundred streaming video channels as well as hundreds of on-demand shows. Most of those are Chinese programming, but PPLive also broadcasts sports events from around the world, including NBA and European soccer games — a feature that has made the service popular with sports fans overseas as well.

PPLive also relays music video stations like MTV Asia and feature-length movies. But recently there have been reports that PPLive has started to at least partially block content, with users complaining that they aren’t able to access western movies from outside of China. A spokesperson for PPLive owner Juli Media told ChinaTechNews that the company spent 60 million Chinese yuan on technologies to protect copyrights last year alone.

That number seems high, but there’s undoubtedly a lot of money to be made with Chinese P2P TV, as the rise of PPLive shows. The P2P streaming platform started as a university project in late 2004. By late 2006, it claimed to attract 2.5 million unique daily visitors, resulting in 18 million daily page views.

Those numbers have gotten the attention of U.S.-based VC firms. PPLive raised $21 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson in September in a third round of financing after having previously secured around $6 million from other U.S. and Chinese investors.

PPLive isn’t the only Chinese P2P streaming platform getting big bucks: PPStream raised $10 million in March of 2007 and UUSee raised $20 million from well-known VC firms like DFJ, Highland Capital and Steamboat Ventures after previously having raised $10 million from Sequinoa and others.

Now it looks like trouble is looming for Chinese P2P companies. PPStream was sued earlier this year, and the Google-backed download platform Xunlei even got in trouble with the MPAA, which is looking to get $1 million dollars in damages by way of the Chinese courts. So far, the effect of these lawsuits on Chinese-based P2P TV is unclear, but we might know more soon: ChinaTechNews is reporting that a court decision in the PPLive case is expected as soon as next month.

8 Responses to “Chinese P2P Streaming Platform PPLive Sued for Copyright Infringement”

  1. Being the leading Internet TV company in China, providing over 1,000 live broadcast and 900 video on demand, PPLive is a nature target for lawsuit, just as much as youtube is in United States.

    Unlike youtube however, PPLive does not do our own programming; We work with content providers for all our contents, respecting restriction including geographic distribution. For example, we partner with NBA to broadcast live games but you would not get NBA on our system in United States, only in China.

  2. We were working pretty closely with TVkoo until they got bought out by CCTV. Somehow I don’t think they’ll get sued for copyright infringement (or anything else). OTOH they are hq’d in Chengdu so they may be gone for all we know.

  3. Gianfranco

    What was Draper Fisher Jurvetson thinking when they invested in the junk company.

    Probably that nobody can beat their content costs :-)

    This is found to be the N-th big failuer of Draper Fisher Jurvetson in the media sector. Past failures have included Blue Falcon Networks and Akimbo.

    What do they know about online video and media?

    Answer: Absolutely nothing.

  4. Janko Roettgers

    heddy, I asked myself the same question, but couldn’t find anything substantial. There’s a publisher that goes by the name Guang Zhou Xin Shi Dai Ying Yin Gong Si that releases TV soap operas and audio CDs, but of course Guang Zhou is not Beijing. Maybe they’re still related. Any Mainland culture industry experts out there?