Court bans short video app Shuabao from ripping content from Douyin

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Beijing Haidian People’s Court issued an injunction against the two owners of short video app Shuabao on June 28, prohibiting them from downloading short videos and related comments from Bytedance’s Douyin and uploading them to their own platform, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Beijing Chuangrui Media and Chengdu Li’ao Media illegally scraped more than 50,000 short videos and attached comments from Douyin, Bytedance said in the filing. The theft was an act of unfair competition and weakened Bytedance’s competitive edge, the Douyin owner said.

Shuabao’s owners stated that the scraped videos and comments were uploaded by users and that the majority of them had been deleted. They also argued that the remaining 1,220 videos were obtained legally and would not cause irreversible damage to Bytedance.

However, according to the court’s ruling, the accused did not provide sufficient proof to support their claims. Evidence presented by Bytedance contradicted their defense, such as “copied from Douyin” watermarks on the videos as well as comments that are identical to those on Douyin, further indicating that the accused took the videos using technical means, the court ruled.

Denial of any wrongdoing and ongoing video scraping activities as well as the high number of videos involved in the case necessitated an injunction, the court said in the ruling.

This is not the first time that the Douyin owner has sued companies for appropriating its content. In April, Bytedance sued Baidu for “stealing” popular videos on Douyin and using them as results for a lite search app named “Jiandan Sousuo,” or “Simple Search.” The lawsuit was filed hours after Baidu charged Bytedance with stealing its top search results on content aggregator Jinri Toutiao. Both companies demanded RMB 90 million (around $13 million) in damages and public apologies.