China’s audio-visual content regulator on Wednesday banned short video creators from unauthorized editing and spreading of content taken from other platforms’ long-form TV dramas. 

Why it matters: The development gives legal backing to the claims of Chinese video streaming platforms, including Tencent Video and iQiyi. Both have accused short video platforms of copyright infringement and unfair competition by copying video clips from their hit long-form TV dramas. 

Details: China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA), a government-affiliated association with regulatory power, updated a comprehensive set of guidelines (in Chinese) for short video content on Wednesday.  

  • The updated rules are intended to “remove vulgar and pandering content” and “counter the spread of illegal and pirated content,” according to the statement.

New rules: Under the new regulations, industry players are required to ban a wide range of content on their platforms, including:

  • Content edited or adapted from films, TV dramas, or online TV series without authorization from the original producers.
  • Films, TV dramas, online TV series, and foreign content that is banned or hasn’t been approved by state broadcasting authorities.
  • Content that encourages users to participate in cryptocurrency mining and trading.
  • Content that harms the growth of minors, such as drinking, violence, and drugs.

Context: The CNSA, which has more than 600 industry members, first released short video guidelines in 2019 to regulate the rapid growth of the short video industry. The association includes state-owned broadcasters such as CCTV and internet media companies from Alibaba and Tencent. 

  • More than 70 TV and film institutions and 500 actors signed a joint statement in May, calling on short video and social media apps including Douyin, Kuaishou, and Weibo to respect copyright and stop re-editing and spreading pirated content.
  • Short video apps, which have a heated rivalry with the longer video platforms, also screen their own homegrown content, especially short dramas

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.