According to NetEase Cloud Music, it has formally initiated judicial proceedings against Tencent Music. The company is suing Tencent for unfair competition and for illegally pirating songs and batch-washing songs under false names. A series of measures to implement acts of unfair competition. Even though we all admit that unfair competition occurs from time to time in business, there are few fields that are as dead as Chinese online music due to unfair competition.
For a long time, Tencent Music Entertainment Group (including QQ Music, Kuwo Music, Kugou Music, National K Song and other products) has illegally played unauthorized songs. NetEase claims that it has been faking songs in batches and copies its product innovation. Here are the main complaints that NetEase has against Tencent.
Top 3 infringements
1. Malicious infringement of copyright
a. QQ Music pirate broadcasts through the “regional play” function
NetEase Cloud Music claims that for a long time, QQ Music, a subsidiary of Tencent Music Entertainment Group, repeatedly lists its popular works without authorization. The company claims that after filing for rights protection, QQ Music had to change tactics. QQ Music then targets Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou areas. In other areas where it knows NetEase was not looking, it continues to pirate and release NetEase’s products.
From a provincial level, QQ Music cannot play NetEase Cloud Music’s rights-entitled songs in Beijing, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, and Guangzhou, Guangdong. However, it can be played in Xi’an, Jiangsu, Suzhou and other provinces and cities;
From the same provincial-level region, taking Zhejiang Province as an example, under the circumstance that QQ Music cannot play NetEase Cloud Music’s rights and interests songs in Hangzhou City, all other ten prefecture-level cities in Zhejiang Province, such as Shaoxing, Huzhou, Jiaxing, Ningbo, Zhoushan, etc., all have illegal acts of secretly releasing the songs involved in the case.
The number of infringing works pirated by QQ Music in different regions is huge. In addition, they are all popular songs on the NetEase Cloud Music platform. QQ Music’s behaviour violates copyright and seriously violates business ethics. Its behaviour ignores laws, regulations, and business ethics. Its subjective maliciousness is obvious.
b. QQ Music secretly releases NetEase’s works through the “Import External Playlist” function
For unlicensed songs, QQ Music has developed the function of copying and re-importing the link of its platform’s playlist. It can then replay and download the original playlist.
Take the popular song “Displacement Time and Space (Ai Chen)” as an example, the search on the QQ music station shows “no sound source”. However, after copying the playlist link and importing it (the import playlist link contains y.qq.com), you can playback and download the song.
QQ Music pirates copyright-free works by “importing external playlists”. Such a piecemeal and sneaky move damages the rights and interests of musicians. It also infringes copyright and destroys the fragile mutual trust between the industries.
c. Tencent Music batched unlicensed popular songs with fake names and malicious interception
For a long time, Tencent Music’s QQ Music, Kugou Music, and Kuwo Music have produced a large number of impostor and song-washing works for unauthorized works.
In 2020 alone, Tencent Music successively launched a large number of fake songs of the same name for popular songs. The chorus part of nearly a thousand songs is the same or similar to the original song.
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For example, after the “Delete Bar” launched by NetEase Cloud Music Cloud Studio and Shensheng Culture, a large number of songs with the same name and different lyrics appeared in QQ Music and Kugou Music. We have things like “Delete Bar” (official version), “Delete Bar” (new version), “Deleted Bar” (original singing) and “Deleted Bar” (Tik Tok Hot Search Smoke Voice Version), etc. All these are just malicious ways to pirate the song.
Even the names of the singers of some of the fake songs are “high imitations” of the original singers. For example, in a product of Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the musician “Lao Fan next door” is written as “Lao Pan next door”. Under the “Lao Pan next door”, QQ Music lists all the works of “Lao Fan next door”. Thus, it misleads users to click and listen.
What’s more, some companies under the Tencent Music Entertainment Group are even more purposeful and organized to participate in the song-washing industry chain. As long as NetEase Cloud Music releases a hit song, Tencent Music’s three products will not only directly pirate the original song but will also intensify its efforts to launch a large number of shoddy songs with the same name. In fact, this happens within a day or two after releasing the new song.
2. Long-term plagiarism of NetEase Cloud Music’s visual design
a. QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music plagiarized NetEase Cloud Music vinyl play page design
Since its official launch in April 2013, the unique vinyl playback interface is the core design of NetEase Cloud Music products. The company also has relevant design patents. In October 2020, the iPad version of Kugou Music updated the playback interface. The new vinyl interface design is very similar to the NetEase Cloud Music vinyl playback interface.
In March 2022, the Kugou Ringtone App and Kuwo’s 2496 App also used a similar design. In April 2022, the updated version of QQ Music also provided a vinyl playback interface. The design concept and interface are highly similar to NetEase Cloud Music vinyl page.
b. Kugou Music and QQ Music plagiarize NetEase Cloud Music’s “Listen Together” function
In July 2020, NetEase Cloud Music officially launched the “listen together” function. Thanks to the cloud village community atmosphere and unique interactive experience, “listen together” quickly became a feature that was widely praised by the industry and popular with users. In January 2021, Kugou launched the “Follow and Listen” function. Its function settings and page interaction design can be called pixel-level plagiarism of NetEase Cloud Music “Listen Together”.
In February 2021, QQ Music updated the “Music Room・Listen Together” function, and the function name was “Listen Together” with NetEase Cloud Music. In August 2021, the 10.16.5 version of QQ Music also directly renames the “music room” to “listen together”.
3. Kugou Music copied NetEase Cloud Music’s “Yunbei Push Song” function setting and interface design
In April 2020, NetEase Cloud Music launched the “Yunbei Push Song” function in version 7.1.10 to support users to promote their favourite songs. Three months later, Kugou Music also completed the follow-up and launched the “music push” function. It once again carried out pixel-level plagiarism from NetEase function settings and interface design.
Over the years, Tencent Music Entertainment Group has carried out unfair competition against NetEase Cloud Music and the entire online music industry. It also has a long time, wide scope, various means and tragic consequences.
According to the “Anti-Unfair Competition Law of the People’s Republic of China”, “The Copyright Law of the People’s Republic of China” as well as other relevant regulations, NetEase Cloud Music has filed a complaint against Tencent Music Entertainment Group (including QQ Music, Kuwo Music, Kugou Music and other products).