[UPDATED 12/16 - Youku counters that Tudou’s claim is against only two episodes of the chat show, but that Youku has licensed that show from Cti TV as well. Plus, says Youku, Tudou has pirated hundreds of its episodes of its own licensed dramas. See new new report].
China’s two largest video-streaming sites, Tudou (NASDAQ:TUDO) and Youku (NYSE:YOKU), are heading for a legal battle after Tudou announced that it is taking action – together with its license partner Cti TV – over alleged piracy of a popular TV series on Youku.
The Tudou claim relates to a chat show hosted by model and actress Dee Hsu – aka ‘Little S’ in Chinese – called Kang Xi is Coming (pictured above), and to which it has exclusive licensed streaming rights. Tudou has bought a number of other Taiwanese shows, which are especially popular amongst young women, for streaming. The joint press releases says:
Cti TV alleged that Youku.com has illicitly pirated all of the ‘Kangxi is Coming’ programs that was officially broadcast by Cti TV starting on December 1st, and that the pirated videos were not uploaded by Internet users but officially uploaded and recommended by Youku.com itself.
The statement goes on to explain that Youku did start to remove some of the offending videos, but then on December 8th they reappeared, and now remain on the site generating revenue for Youku with ads from the likes of automaker Suzuki, and confectionary brand M&Ms.
Tudou and Cti TV say they’re seeking negotiations and compensation or – failing that – full legal action; though that would be made more complex by the separate legal systems that exist in mainland China and Taiwan. The press release even threatens:
Cti TV will use for reference the effective rights protection measures directed against Youku.com adopted by the domestic TVs […] and reserve the right to take comprehensive measures to safeguard its rights and interests, which include continuous serious negotiation with Youku.com, reporting the case to the competent authorities […] and requiring them to blacklist Youku.com among serious piracy and revoke its related license and qualification.
We’ve reached out to Youku, and will update when we hear back. [UPDATE: Youku has responded in detail. Click through for the full report].