Olympic rights holders pledge copyright clampdown

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, July 8, 2021
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People read at a library in Taocheng District of Hengshui, north China's Hebei Province, April 23, 2020. World Book and Copyright Day falls on April 23 yearly to promote reading, publishing and copyright. (Xinhua/Zhu Xudong)

China's broadcast rights holders for the Tokyo Olympics have warned they are upping their game in the fight against copyright infringement ahead of an expected surge in illegal activity during the Games.

China Media Group announced Tencent as its strategic video partner for Tokyo 2020 and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics during a media conference in Beijing on Tuesday, when Tencent also vowed to help CMG strengthen copyright protection and take "decisive" legal action against rights infringers.

"The Olympics attract the attention from across the globe with huge influence and market value. However, with the development of digital and internet technology, especially the boom in short video clips online, we are facing unprecedented challenges in regard to rights infringement," said Yan Bo, the deputy director of China Media Group's copyright operation.

"As a member of the Olympic family and the rights-holding broadcaster, China Media Group has a legal obligation to protect the intellectual property of the Olympics. Still, it's a very challenging task for us."

In 2014, the International Olympic Committee granted China Central Television, a subsidiary of China Media Group, exclusive broadcast rights to four editions of the Olympics-Pyeongchang 2018, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024.Yan says this summer his organization will be more proactive in dealing with breaches of the law.

"First of all, we will have a quicker response to the huge volume of rights infringements. We will have cooperation with mainstream copyright infringement monitoring organizations to cover each corner of the internet," he said.

"And we will use more advanced technology, such as blockchain, big data, cloud computing, for accurate analysis and more precise action against infringers. Also we will take stronger administrative and legal action."

However, Zhu Xiaoyu, a copyright lawyer and managing partner of Beijing Jia Guan Law Firm, believes this is easier said than done, due to the sheer volume of infringements.

"Take the 2016 Rio Olympics for example, there was no shortage of media rights infringement cases in the Chinese market," Zhu told China Daily.

"Apart from the traditional TV broadcasters, copyright infringement cases were mostly online, such as illegal live broadcasting of the Games' opening and closing ceremonies, unauthorized short videos and gif images.

"The Olympics are the most significant sports event in the world, staged once every four years. Compared with the previous edition of the Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, sports-related copyright protection has improved in China. Large portal websites now have a stronger sense of copyright protection."

Zhu added that short-video-sharing sites have become the most common platform for copyright infringements.

"Take Euro 2020 as the latest example, we can still find many unauthorized short videos and gif images on these platforms," he said. "And since the 2018 Winter Olympics, we have found that more and more media rights infringement cases are occurring on apps for smart devices as opposed to portal websites.

"Large-scale copyright infringement cases on major media platforms have become rare in recent years thanks to better legal protection and the precedent set by previous legal cases. But there are still a huge amount of personal and small media accounts sharing unauthorized content."

Greater copyright protection, however, shouldn't detract from fans' enjoyment of the action, with Tencent promising a plentiful supply of broadcasts, short videos and interactive content during the Tokyo Games. In addition, a number of current and former Team China athletes will be among the guests in the studio to enhance the coverage.

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