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November 30, 2010

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Websites in copyright tussle

BEIJING-BASED video website is seeking 100,000 yuan (US$14,993) in compensation from competitor, accusing Tudou of violating its exclusive rights to broadcast a popular TV play online.

Tudou denied having infringed Sohu's copyright in a hearing held at the Pudong New Area People's Court yesterday.

In turn, Tudou said it sued Sohu in Beijing in August as Sohu had broadcast another popular TV play whose online copyright belonged to Tudou.

Sohu said it had obtained exclusive rights to broadcast "A Story of Lala's Promotion" on the Internet in November 2009 and put it online in April.

But it soon found Tudou made the play available at almost the same time without its permission. It had sent Tudou letters stating that it held the copyright, but received no response, the plaintiff said.

"Tudou even promoted the TV play on its home page and broadcast ads with the play," Sohu said. "It obtained huge profits from the popular show."

Tudou argued that it had reached an oral agreement with Sohu to exchange the screening rights to "A Story of Lala's Promotion" for that of "The Myth," which belonged to Tudou.

Sohu received high traffic figures when it aired "The Myth" in January 2010 without paying royalties.

When Tudou aired "A Story of Lala's Promotion," Sohu sought unreasonable compensation, according to a Tudou official.

"We have full reason to believe Sohu had accepted the exchange," Tudou said. It added that it removed the play after it received requests from Sohu to do so.

An official from Sohu said such an agreement didn't exist and condemned Tudou for making such claims.

The court didn't hand down a verdict after the hearing.

Last year, Sohu teamed up with Shanghai online video site and other Internet companies to form an anti-piracy alliance, as well as to fight infringement of licensing rights they had to screen movies and TV shows.


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