Disney takes on Chinese affiliate over piracy

Disney is in a piracy war over <i>Wall-E</i> against a Chinese video sharing site that it invested in.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Disney is fighting a piracy war over its acclaimed film Wall-E against a company that its venture capital arm invested in, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The infringing company, 56.com, a Chinese video sharing site that's similar to YouTube, hosted several full-length bootlegs of Wall-E that were freely available on the company's site. The bootlegs were added by users of the site months ago, but only recently have they been fully removed from its pages.

Piracy in China is nothing new, but the fact that 56.com featured Disney movies on its site is ironic, considering Disney's venture capital division, Steamboat Ventures, invested in the video sharing company back in 2006. Although the exact amount is unknown, the Journal claims the investment is substantial, but less than $30 million.

John Ball, founder and managing director of Steamboat, told the Journal that his company was aware that pirated content was commonplace on the site when it made its investment in 56.com, but he was confident that the video service would remove illegal material quickly and "help the legitimate evolution of digital content online."

A quick search of 56.com yielded no results for "Wall-E" on Friday, but it wasn't difficult to find copies of other prominent films in their entirety. But now that Disney has been affected by 56.com, it will be interesting to see if any more of the company's films crop up on the popular Chinese site.