China catches up with fugitive chief of video sharing site

Head of video streaming service accused of copyright violations sent back to mainland

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 7:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 8:42pm

The head of one of China’s most widely used video streaming platforms has been arrested and repatriated back to the mainland after 110 days on the run, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Qvod chief executive Wang Xin fled China before the authorities raided Qvod offices in April, shortly after the popular video service was accused of repeated violations of copyright law.

According to Xinhua, Interpol issued a warrant for Wang’s arrest. He was finally apprehended on August 8 in an unspecified country after spending 110 days abroad and handed to the Chinese authorities, reports said.

Qvod, founded in Shenzhen in 2007 under the Chinese name Kuai Bo, gained notoriety for its peer-to-peer video streaming application, which gave around 50 million active users access to a wide variety of pornographic content and pirated material.

In 2010, mainland authorities began investigating Wang for distributing pornography through Qvod, and in November 2013, a coalition of the country’s biggest internet video providers, including Tencent, Youku Tudou and Sohu, sued the company for unauthorised video sharing.

Qvod was fined 250,000 yuan (HK$315,000). In interviews to Xinhua in early April, Wang said the company planned to distribute only original content.

“Pirated content helped us gain quick expansion,” Wang was quoted as saying. “But times have changed and rules have changed. If we wish to survive, we must abide by the rules.”

But the National Copyright Administration of China accused the firm of further copyright violations. Police raided Qvod’s office on April 22, and Wang was nowhere to be found. The company's internet business licence was revoked in May, and a notice on its Chinese website said Qvod had begun a “comprehensive transformation of its business model”.

“We are willing to actively cooperate with all of the relevant authorities and take the initiative to undergo a complete overhaul of our business,” the notice said.

In June, the Shenzhen Municipal Market Supervision Administration said the city government planned to fine Qvod nearly 260 million yuan (HK$328 million) for profiting from illegal content.