With the development of digital technology, the short video platform is not only providing traditional information storage service, but also offering the algorithm recommendation service. At present, there is no dispute that the unauthorized act of editing and dissemination of film and television works infringes on the owner’s right to network dissemination of information. The dispute mainly lies in whether the short video platform that pushes the infringing videos should bear tort liability.
IQiyi Company (爱奇艺公司）is the operator of a well-known new media platform called "iQiyi" and enjoys the exclusive right to network dissemination of the TV series "The Mystic Nine（《老九门》）" in China.
There were a large number of infringing video clips about the TV series in the APP of a well-known short video platform in China. The platform knew or should know the infringing content involved, but still provided users with online playback and download services of the videos through various recommendation behaviors. According to the investigation, Beijing xx technology co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as xx short video platform company) and Beijing xx information technology co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as xx information technology company) are the operators of the short video APP. The infringing videos were stored in the network server of the Wuxi branch of xx communication co., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as xx Wuxi communication company).
IQiyi claimed that the above actions of xx short video platform company and xx information technology company had diverted the users of the iQiyi platform and seriously infringed on its legitimate rights and interests. IQiyi sued to the court, requesting: 1. xx short video platform company and xx information technology company immediately delete the infringing videos in xx short video platform APP; 2. xx communication company in Wuxi immediately stop the infringement and delete the infringing videos from the network server; 3. xx short video platform company, xx information technology company, and xx communication company in Wuxi to compensate for economic losses and reasonable expenses paid for stopping the infringement of 1.95 million yuan.
1. xx short video platform company argued that:
Firstly, xx short video platform company did not carry out the infringement, for the infringing videos were uploaded by the users themselves and the company did not edit the video content. Secondly, as a video sharing platform with average daily active users of hundreds of millions, the company was hardly likely to check whether the massive videos contain infringing contents. Thirdly, the compensation claimed by iQiyi was too high.
2. xx information technology company argued that:
xx information technology company is not the operator of xx short video platform APP, but only provided information storage services and therefore did not constitute infringement.
3. xx communications company in Wuxi argued that:
xx communications company, who provided network access service only, should not bear the responsibility of notification and deletion; nor could it delete or disconnect some specific video connections.
The court held that xx short video platform company constituted infringement, given that it didn’t delete the infringing videos about "The Mystic Nine” in its APP after receiving the notification from iQiyi for several times. IQiyi was awarded more than one million Yuan. However, xx communication company and xx information technology company in Wuxi have no subjective fault for the alleged infringement and shall not bear the joint tort liability since they only provided network access and automatic transmission and storage services of the infringing videos to the APP of xx short video platform.
As the first infringement dispute involving short video platform algorithm recommendation in China, this case provides reference for relevant cases as it clarifies the duty of care for algorithm recommendation of short video platforms and the tort liability of network service providers offering basic network access, automatic transmission and storage services. The rapid development of artificial intelligence accelerates the wider application of algorithm recommendation technology in the video industry, which requires algorithm recommendation service providers to take higher duty of care so as to prevent infringement, rather than to take “technology neutrality” as an excuse to exempt legal liability.