This morning, Beijing’s Haidian District court said that it has accepted a suit by streaming giant iQiyi against entertainment platform Douban. iQiyi claims that three Douban users published libelous accounts about a fight that broke out on the set of a celebrity cooking show, 奇妙的食光 (our translation: Wonderful “Food” Times), this past September.
As compensation, the streaming site demands that Douban delete the articles, make a public apology, pay RMB 500,000, and provide identifying information of the three users. In the Beijing court post, the plaintiff claims that the articles defamed the company by associating its employees with accusations of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and unfairly ganging up on a female fan, among other things. It says that these allegations are untrue.
At the time of publication, the posts on Douban in question were nowhere to be found. TechNode was not able to ascertain the actual nature of the libel nor find any evidence suggesting the basis for iQiyi’s libel suit, other than the allegations made in the suit. We will update if any such evidence surfaces.
The on-set incident, however, did happen by iQiyi’s own admission. After video footage of multiple alleged crew members exchanging blows with a man and a woman were leaked online in September, the official Weibo account of Wonderful “Food” Times posted an apology for its employees’ behavior while filming in Australia. A second post on the show’s Weibo post included snapshots of five “common assault” decisions handed out by the Magistrates Court in Southport, none of which include jail time or a mandatory fine.
A third post by the show on September 17 includes a scanned copy of a letter written by an Australian lawyer apparently employed by the crew, stating that its members had been harassed by “a group of up to 30 or so fans” for a month leading up to the fight. According to the letter, the presiding judge concluded that the crew “were not the main perpetrators” in the assault case, and “were embarrassed and ashamed of the actions of everybody.”
In its claim against Douban, iQiyi states that the three users hurt the reputation of both the platform and the show, which hadn’t yet been released when the users published about the fight . Wonderful “Food” Times, which stars various baby-faced male celebrities serving up reality show-style entertainment, has since begun airing.
iQiyi has a history of filing suits against fellow entertainment providers, although not usually over fistfights. In September, the platform sued Jinri Toutiao operator Bytedance, seeking RMB30 million in compensation for illegally streaming its hit costume drama The Story of Yanxi Palace. Before that, the video platform also sought reparations from anime hub Bilibili for streaming Rap of China without its consent.