In a series of three firsts, Beijing’s internet court dismisses ByteDance copyright suit against Baidu

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Beijing’s newly established internet court has dismissed ByteDance-backed Douyin’s copyright lawsuit against Baidu, a dispute that marks the first time a Chinese court has recognized short videos under the country’s copyright laws and accepted blockchain evidence.

According to Beijing Evening News, Douyin, known as TikTok internationally, filed the RMB 1 million (around $145,000) lawsuit against Baidu on Sept. 11 in Beijing, saying the company’s short-video app Huopai copied its videos, also allowing Baidu’s users to download them.

Douyin was not immediately available for comment.

The case is a first in China relating to short-video copyright and has subsequently garnered a great deal of attention. It was also the first heard by the Beijing Internet Court and the first that accepted blockchain evidence. Although Douyin’s petition was unsuccessful, the lawsuit sets a precedent for copyright protection in China’s booming short-video industry.

According to Douyin, videos uploaded to Baidu’s app without permission constitute copyright infringement because of the company’s terms and conditions agreement with its users. Douyin says it has exclusive broadcast rights to videos on its platform. The company sought compensation as well as a public apology

However, the court ruled in Baidu’s favor as it deleted the videos after being notified by Douyin. “Still, the defendant should perform its duties more actively and effectively,” presiding judge Zhang Wen said in his ruling.

This is not the first time this year ByteDance has taken Baidu to court over copyright infringements. In May, Bytedance’s news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao accused Baidu of unauthorized streaming of a talk show called Yihguohui, produced by ByteDance-run Watermelon Video and content aggregator Jinri Toutiao. The company demanded Baidu cease the infringement, pay compensation of RMB 80,000, and apologize.

A month later, Jinri Toutiao filed a RMB 10 million lawsuit against the search giant for unfair competition. Toutiao said that content on a Baidu-owned platform was disparaging and slanderous towards it. The filing claimed that Baidu’s articles accused Bytedance of merely wanting public attention from fights with big tech companies such as Baidu and Tencent.