Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on March 11, 2008
All sorts of speculation in the blogosphere about what’s happening to Tudou, probably the top Chinese video-sharing site. Rebecca MacKinnon, the former CNN reporter who now teaches at the University of Hong Kong, has a good run down on the rumors at her always-useful blog. The buzz really picked up last week when a bunch of bloggers wrote that bureaucrats at SARFT, the Beijing office in charge of regulating TV, were peeved that some porn to made it past the Tudou firewalls. But Tudou, which is not commenting on the rumors, is still up and running. Rebecca thinks that the company is caught in the middle of a bureaucratic turf war among Beijing officials. Another possibility is a Tudou rival started spreading the rumors in order to throw the company - which only recently announced a partnership with CCTV - off its game.
People have focused on the porn angle of this story. In part that’s because the Chinese government is so intent on stamping out online pornography. And of course porn-related news manages to get people’s attention; just ask Hong Kong’s accidental porn star Edison Chen. (No, I’m not going to link to the videos.) But if the government is indeed mad at China’s YouTube wannabes, there might be another reason that’s not as sexy. Graham Webster at CNet’s blog last week, when reporting on the speculation that Tudou was a target, wrote that “Whereas YouTube tends to take down copyrighted material relatively quickly, Tudou is less vigilant about copyright.” It’s that allegedly lax copyright protection that has annoyed the American film industry, where the folks at the Motion Picture Association are upset about what they say is the easy access to Hollywood movies on Chinese video-sharing sites.
With so many other things going wrong in China-Hollywood relations (see this interview that I did recently with Dan Glickman, the head of the MPA, for more on the industry’s gripes about counterfeiting and market access) maybe some Beijing officials figure they can score some easy points by increasing the pressure on video-sharing sites.