China's WeChat signs UK copyright protection pledge

China's WeChat signs UK copyright protection pledge

Chinese instant messaging service Weixin has signed a “significant” agreement to better tackle copyright infringement with the China-British Business Council.

As Beijing International Book Fair kicks off today (24th August), a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between Tencent Holdings Limited (Tencent), which owns Weixin (or WeChat, as it has been branded internationally), the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), and the International Publishers Copyright Protection Coalition in China (IPCC) to further the protection of intellectual property (IP) on Weixin, used by more than 806m people worldwide.

The MOU demonstrates further progress towards cracking down on copyright infringement in China, which often poses a problem for UK publishers, The Bookseller understands.

As part of the agreement, all parties will emphasise the importance of IP protection, work together to explore offline cooperation with law enforcement agencies, hold regular meetings to discuss systemic improvements on IP protection and set up an “express channel” to prioritise needs of CBBC and IPCC members within Mainland China.

The IPCC is a group of 20 multinational publishers in China, and is supported by the UK’s Publishers Association and the Association of American Publishers.

The signing was witnessed by UK minister of state for energy and intellectual property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, as part of her official annual visit to China, along with Tencent senior vice president, general counsel Brent Irvin, vice president Victor Jiang, CBBC executive director Jeff Astle and IPCC co-chair Kong Yuyan, who also serves as managing director of BMJ China.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe at the signing of an agreement by Chinese instant messaging service Weixin.

Astle said: “This MOU signing is a significant step in protecting the interests of UK companies in China. There are clear and ambitious commitments on all sides and CBBC is confident about the impact our cooperation will have on the healthy growth of the Chinese Internet and social media.”

Zhang added: “Facing the special daily threats of Internet and digital copyright infringement and piracy, the IPCC started to proactively explore cooperation and dialogue with Chinese Internet companies in 2011. The signing of this cooperation agreement shows both sides' intent and determination to work more closely together, which undoubtedly sends an intimidating warning against infringing behaviour online. Because many of IPCC's members come from the UK, we're very pleased and honoured that the IP Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, is able to be here to witness this milestone.”

Speaking for the UK Publishers Association, Emma House, director of publisher relations, said the international publishing community takes protection of authors' copyrights “extremely seriously”, and so the MOU was a “great start” to a relationship with Tencent .