Chinese video streaming sites in piracy spat

Tudou and Chung T'ien Television accuse video streaming site, Youku, of pirating their content, but Youku rebutts with claims that Tudou stole its content in the past, says report.

Two Chinese video streaming sites, Tudou and Youku, have accused each other of stealing the other's content, triggering a series of "mudslinging PR battles", according to local reports.

Tudou and Taiwanese television station, Chung T'ien Television, jointly issued a statement alleging that Youku and other video streaming Web sites had infringed upon their copyright, by broadcasting without permission Chung T'ien-owned variety show KangXi Lai Le, or Here comes KangXi, according to a report Thursday by Chinese news wire Xinhua.

The report noted that the television network had given Tudou exclusive rights to broadcast KangXi Lai Le in China from Dec. 1, 2011 to Nov. 30, 2012.

Chung T'ien accused Youku of pirating its content since Dec. 1 by uploading the variety show on to its video streaming Web site and editing the content to include commercials. The show reportedly reached the top of Youku's entertainment video charts and garnered about 240 million hits, said the studio.

In a statement Friday, Youku described the accusations as "mudslinging PR battles", adding that Tudou had infringed its copyright in the past. "[Tudou] has pirated more than 60 TV serials from Youku, in addition to stealing most of Youku's original productions. Meetings between Youku and Tudou's legal counselors ultimately proved futile," said Youku. It added that among the videos reportedly pirated by Tudou included Chinese TV serials such as Wu Zetian: The Untold Story and The Emperor's Harem, Korean talk shows and Youku's own original productions.

Youku said it now had "no choice" but to pursue legal action as Tudou "repeatedly failed to remove the mountain of stolen intellectual property posted on their site, while attempting to smear Youku in the press".

Both Chinese Internet companies recently went IPO in the United States, with Youku selling its shares last year while Tudou followed suit this August.