onsdag 3. mars 2021

How a Chinese website for pirated TV shows became a cultural touchstone for millennials

When Bill Liang realized that popular video download and streaming service Renren Yingshi might be gone for good his heart sank. The website, also known as YYeTs.com, was how the 24-year-old film school student was able to watch hundreds of episodes of pirated American TV shows when he was growing up in northern China. But the site — one of China's largest, longest-running and last-remaining destinations for pirated, subtitled foreign content — was shuttered on February 3 as part of a sweeping police clampdown on piracy. 

While the website is still live, none of its services work anymore. "I was heartbroken when I found out," Liang told CNN Business. "I feel like there is one place fewer in China through which we can expand our horizons."

Police in Shanghai arrested 14 people they claim ran the website and app after a three-month investigation into suspected intellectual property infringement. At the time of its closure, Renren Yingshi had amassed over eight million registered users and was home to more than 20,000 pirated TV shows and movies. The site's operators made some 16 million yuan ($2.5 million) in the past couple of years from ads, subscription fees, and selling hard drives loaded with pirated content, according to police.