Even as Chinese video-sharing sites are working to acquire content legitimately, users who want to view certain shows and movies from abroad still have to rely on piracy, said the chief executive of one of China's largest video hosting sites.
"I can't offer that content today," said Li Shanyou, CEO of Ku6.com, formerly named Hurray! Holding Co. "If today you wanted to watch a pirated American show, you can only go to the sites that will offer those pirated American shows."
The remarks came during the 2010 China Internet Conference, a three-day event that has brought government officials, professors and business executives across China to discuss the Internet's development.
Piracy is a major problem in China, where bootleg DVDs are readily available from street vendors. Video-sharing sites like Ku6.com, Tudou and Youku all host pirated movies and shows uploaded by users. The sites have worked to take down the illegal content, according to company officials.
Offering such pirated programs drove user visits in the past, Li said during a speech at the conference. But now the trend is toward acquiring original content legitimately in order to provide a rich offering of entertainment that can mirror television and bring in more users.
"The age of piracy is over," Li said. "Today, now whoever can combine the inner workings of the Internet with the characteristics of television will become this era's king."
Ku6.com was founded in 2006 and now offers content from more than 100,000 producers of original films and television programs. Since late last year, the company started to offer more original and legal content by taking down illegal videos while promoting content that was legally acquired.
By offering legal and original content, Li said the company is already seeing advantages on the financial side. To actively offer pirated content would only risk creating problems with investors.
"For the fans of American shows I have to apologize," Li said. "There will be an appropriate way for these fans to receive the content they would like to see. But for now it can't be offered."
On Tuesday the company renamed itself to Ku6 Media Co. Ltd., while also changing its Nasdaq listing. Li claims it is the first Chinese video site to be listed outside the country.