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China technology

Chinese blog Chaping to refund 30 million yuan investment from Tencent after outcry

China blog Chaping to refund Tencent investment after storm over content and intellectual property rights

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 9:52am

Chinese blog Chaping will voluntarily return a 30 million yuan (US$4.7 million) investment from Chinese internet giant Tencent after an online uproar over alleged plagiarism by the investee company.

Chaping, a tech news account based on Tencent’s messaging and social media app WeChat, announced the decision on Monday after expressing its intent to refund Tencent over the weekend and after the two parties agreed on the process.

“Following the recent controversy over Chaping, our team has started a process of self-inspection and reflection,” said Chaping in a statement. “Before we set out new rules for content copyright, we believe it’s inappropriate to accept Tencent’s investment.”

Tencent, one of Asia’s most valuable companies by market cap, confirmed the refund. “We’ve reached an agreement with the Chaping team to accept their voluntary decision to refund the investment,” said a spokesperson for Tencent. “We will respect and protect original content as always, and continue to push forward and improve the measures to protect originality and provide a bigger space for content creators.”

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The decision comes only five days after Chaping announced the investment by the Tencent Open Platform Interest-Based Content Fund, known as TOPIC, which focuses on investing in content creators. Chaping, which can be translated as “negative review” in English, is run by Hangzhou Magua Network Tech, which regularly posts tech news and product reviews on its WeChat channel. The company says it has five million followers.

Chaping has been accused by some content creators and bloggers of using their material and labelling it as “original” in violation of intellectual property rights. In 2016, self-media commentator Huo Ju sued Chaping for alleged plagiarism of his article about messaging app Telegram founder Pavel Durov. Huo lost the case. However, in a statement on Sunday Chaping apologised to Huo for using “similar phrases”, and admitted that some articles under dispute should do a better job of citing the source and not be labelled as original content.

The refunded investment - the first by the TOPIC Fund - will be seen as a setback for Tencent, which aims to invest in 100 content companies via the Fund. The investment had seen it come under fire from content creators, who accused it of being indifferent to intellectual property infringement.

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However, the Shenzhen-based company had issued a statement on May 24, announcing that it would reopen the due diligence process on the investee company and negotiate a withdrawal if Chaping was found to be in breach of Tencent’s intellectual property protection principles.