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Chinese streaming firm iQiyi sues tech platform for millions over Yanxi Palace clips

Chinese streaming site iQiyi – known as the Netflix of China – is seeking damages of 30m yuan (S$6m) from a technology firm for allegedly showing clips of a smash-hit soap opera to which iQiyi has exclusive rights.

iQiyi has lodged the lawsuit in the Haidian District People’s Court of Beijing, according to the South China Morning Post.

China’s largest streaming company claims ByteDance Technology, which operates content platform Jinri Toutiao, streamed short clips of The Story of Yanxi Palace. The clips are understood to have attracted 800,000 views.

iQiyi claims the unauthorised streaming caused “tremendous damage” to its business and is suing ByteDance for 30m yuan, citing economic losses.

ByteDance said it has yet to receive legal papers from the court but confirmed iQiyi had lodged a complaint. A spokeswoman said all third party content that violated copyright has been taken down.

“All users that violated our policy have received relevant punishment,” a spokeswoman told the SCMP.

The 70-episode drama about the Qing dynasty was co-produced by iQiyi and Huanya Film. It has been distributed in 70 markets, making it one of the most widely distributed series produced in China.

The Story of Yanxi Palace was said by iQiyi to have been the most watched online drama in China for 39 consecutive days during the summer, streamed an average of 300 million times a day. At its peak it received a record-breaking 700 million views. Overall it has been streamed 15 billion times.

The legal action is the second launched by iQiyi in recent months. A lawsuit issued in May claimed streaming firm Bilibili broadcast hip-hop talent show Rap of China, with compensation of one million yuan being demanded.

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