How TikTok Used Blockchain to Defeat Copyright Infringement

“The recognition blockchain technology will receive in the coming years for its undeniable qualities, including immutability, a strong sense of protection, and transparency, is sure to shake up the world of IP protection as we know it.” attained the title of the world’s second-largest economy, along with a constant influx of innovative companies and massive breakthroughs in digital development, China – often referred to by natives as “Zhongguo” – indubitably ranks among the strongest global tech leaders.

While China has lately found itself in arduous times dealing with the dangerous COVID-19 virus, the country’s determination for progress surely hasn’t faltered. Such determination can deliver various results in various forms, and, considering China’s increasing size and global power, protecting intellectual property rights is one of those progressive outcomes.

In 2017, China established the Hangzhou Internet Court to tackle Internet-based cases, like online shopping and copyright infringement, remotely. Later, China ruled that the use of blockchain technology for the purpose of authenticating presented evidence would be allowed, paving the way for the world’s first-ever blockchain-enabled evidence accepted by a court.

TikTok Makes Judicial History

Douyin by ByteDance, better known as TikTok by Western audiences, is a short-video sharing platform that surpassed 400 million users in 2019 in China alone. With the stream of internationally viral videos and the mind-boggling amounts of active viewers and content creators, they were bound to encounter some kind of copying along the way from the start. In this case, the copyright infringers were Baidu—a Chinese version of Google.

Baidu created a fundamentally similar application to Douyin, called Huopai. Subsequently, they ended up stealing one of the videos originally uploaded on Douyin—going even so far as to enable free downloads on the digital item. Douyin of course sued Baidu for copyright infringement, and demanded financial reimbursement. What Baidu didn’t know, however, was that ByteDance had an ace up their sleeves they could use—data stored on an immutable ledger known as blockchain that could prove the copying.

Thanks to this first-ever accepted blockchain evidence in history, the court ultimately found Baidu guilty of copyright infringement, ruling that a short-video sharing platform can enforce the same copyrights as television shows, for instance.

A Global Phenomenon

As a blockchain pioneer, I’m delighted to see this relatively new phenomenon helping to strengthen the world of intellectual property protection. And it’s not only China that’s making things better with blockchain—court evidence recorded on blockchain has been making its mark in the UK, United States, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, and other countries, and will surely expand even farther.

The recognition blockchain technology will receive in the coming years for its undeniable qualities, including immutability, a strong sense of protection, and transparency, is sure to shake up the world of IP protection as we know it.

Artists offer blood, sweat, and tears to conceive original ideas, and their goal is not only to entertain others but to enrich their intellectual portfolio, deliver innovation, and make a living in the process. As far as blockchain innovations go, the technology will, in return, stand loyally with original creators and continue to pave its way as “the” technology that fights for fairness.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of

Join the Discussion

6 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for A Nanny Mouse]
    A Nanny Mouse
    March 27, 2020 06:59 am

    Very interesting but it is useful to remember blockchain (like the use of search engines funnily enough) comes with a carbon cost (electricity to generate and maintain the unique blockchain identifyer, or with search engines – that minute amount of electricity to carry out a search rather than use a bookmark).

  • [Avatar for Aniket Singh]
    Aniket Singh
    March 20, 2020 08:37 am

    This will help a lot, people won’t be able to steal someone’s content. Blockchain will help a lot in future as it is transparent as well as protected so that no one can change it.

  • [Avatar for blockchain training in hyderabad]
    blockchain training in hyderabad
    March 18, 2020 07:16 am

    thank you for the valuable information giving on blockchain it is very helpful.

  • [Avatar for Ari Rosenberg]
    Ari Rosenberg
    March 17, 2020 01:34 pm

    Sorry to intrude — I did read this op – ed and found it very worthwhile so thank you it is a big deal. I am looking to connect with another reader of this site who goes by “Pro Se” if anyone knows him/her please reach out to me ar thank you

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    March 17, 2020 12:56 pm

    It would have been nice to provide more specifics. Like I am guessing that there is a blockchain of all the videos that are used as evidence of when they were created?

    More information about the blockchain would have been welcomed as well.

  • [Avatar for LazyCubicleMonkey]
    March 17, 2020 12:20 pm

    Don’t forget the 2 other side effects blockchains can offer with their immutability:

    1. Bypassing copyright altogether – copyrighted material uploaded to the blockchain cannot be removed.
    2. Bypassing censorship – censored material uploaded to a public blockchain cannot be removed.

    Interesting times ahead.