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Format Protection Body Backs Allegation of Copyright Infringement Against China’s iQIYI

Korean company CJ says iQIYI copied its 'Produce 101' talent show

FRAPA, an organization that represents television format producers and distributors, has backed allegations by a South Korean company that a leading Chinese streaming platform infringed the copyright of one of its talent shows.

At a panel event Sunday at the MipTV television conference and market in Cannes, the Format Recognition and Protection Assn. revealed results of its comparative analysis of “Idol Producer,” launched by China’s iQIYI in January, and Korean company CJ’s “Produce 101,” which launched two years ago. The analysis concluded that the Chinese show scored 88% on FRAPA’s scale of infringement when compared with the Korean show – the highest score ever recorded for an alleged infringement, FRAPA said.

“People in our company were shocked because it wasn’t just a similar show – it was almost a duplicate show,” said Jin Woo Hwang, head of formats and development at CJ E&M. The FRAPA report concluded that “too many striking similarities occur,” he said.

At MipTV, he presented a video compilation from the two shows, which ran side by side on screen, that he said demonstrated the similarities between the two shows. After watching the videos, FRAPA co-chairman and CEO of Missing Link Media Jan Salling said: “For me as a 30-year formats veteran, this is almost physically painful to watch, because it is, as you say, not just something that is accidentally similar; it is almost identical. It is almost hilarious, I would say.”

In a written statement to Variety, iQIYI said that it adhered to “the highest standards” regarding intellectual property and that its show, “Idol Producer,” showed the streaming platform’s ability to “combine our understanding of Chinese audiences and creativity. If there is a problem, we will solve it with legal measures.”

Jin Woo Hwang said he was not alleging that all Chinese companies created similar infringement issues, and complimented players like Youku and Tencent. “They respect this business and do their best for the formats industry,” he said. “This kind of action actually damages [China’s] brand, and all the efforts that these good companies are making.”

“There are many good players [in China],” Salling added. “We, as format veterans, welcome all Chinese producers and original formats to the industry, and we are willing to trade with all of them. It is also very important that those that do not respect IP are named and highlighted so they learn that this is not the way you should behave.”

iQIYI’s response to a request for comment from Variety reads in full: “As China’s largest online video platform – and a major producer of premium content, iQIYI holds the highest standards and respect for IP protection. We work closely with content partners around the world to ensure that all IP is properly handled, and will continue to focus our efforts on this key area.

“We pride ourselves in producing blockbuster original content with innovation. ‘Idol Producer’ is a great example of iQIYI’s capability to combine our understanding of Chinese audiences and creativity.

“If there is a problem, we will solve it with legal measures.”

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