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TikTok: New Sports Piracy Hub

Recently short-video platform TikTok has gained popularity around the world and become one of the most usable social media networks in the last two years. Such types of platforms now seem more attractive for users due to specific user-oriented content suggesting algorithms. The most susceptible to piracy on TikTok is the sports industry. So, Why has TikTok become a new rapidly-growing piracy hub? What are the main features of this platform? Let’s take a look at this issue.


TikTok is a Chinese short-video social media platform that was launched in 2017. It supports short-form user-generated videos with a duration from 15 seconds to 3 minutes. TikTok is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance inc. In China, TikTok is known as Douyin and is also owned by ByteDance inc.

Traffic and statistics

TikTok has both a website and a mobile app. The mobile app simplifies user access to the social media network and is available on Google Play and AppStore. According to the database Statista Inc, in 2021, the global number of first-time installs of the TikTok app reached 740 million.

As for TikTok’s website, according to SimilarWeb as of December, 2021 total visits count of 1.54 billion and this platform is in the 15th place in the Global ranking. The USA (20%) is top-1 by traffic around the Globe, then comes Philippines (7%) and Vietnam (6%), Russia (5%) is in 4th place.

Kuaishou is another popular short-video platform and the main competitor of Douyin. As of June, 2021 CEO Su Hua claimed that Kuaishou had amassed more than one billion monthly active users per month. More information about this platform can be found here.

TikTok Features

AI-content generator.

The main page with content feed is generated by TikTok’s AI and depends on the type of content a user liked, interacted with, or searched. Users can also choose to add to favorites or select "not interested" on videos for their page. The AI combines all the interactions of a particular user and provides videos that they would also enjoy. So, on the one hand, the AI-content generator is extremely user-friendly and helps to generate an exclusive content feed, however on the other hand if a user is interested in, for example, sports, he or she inadvertently is becoming a part of the illegal content distribution process.


Recently in 2021 social media networks announced that it started a beta-testing of a special streaming feature called Live Studio. This streaming feature would let users broadcast applications open on their computers.

Intellectual Property Policy: imagination vs reality

According to the policy terms of the social media platform, TikTok does not allow posting, sharing, or sending any content that violates or infringes someone else’s copyright, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights. If the content infringes the copyright of another user this particular content will be removed. If a user’s account violates the Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, it may be terminated. In other words, if someone posts infringing content multiple times his or her account will be blocked upon receiving take-down notice. Also, TikTok reserves the right to refuse any user, who violates the copyright, from opening a new account.

The most susceptible to this are Sports broadcasters. As the videos uploaded on TikTok can only be up to 3 minutes, sports rights holders are the most susceptible to piracy on this platform as highlights of sports events. However, introducing TikTok’s streaming feature may lead to a piracy boost of both live streams and highlights.

TikTok remains a sports piracy hub, however, right holders still can fight back, as the platform is fully compliant with copyright claims.