A photo shows the logo of Qvod. [Photo: baike.baidu.com]
Debate has been sparked online in China following the conclusion of a case involving 4 executives from former Chinese online video service Qvod.
The group potentially faces up to life in prison in a case connected to the online distribution of pornography.
Their trial on the charges ended on Friday in Beijing, with the courts withholding a verdict for the time being.
Prosecutors allege some 21-thousand files of pornographic material was found on 3 different servers run by Qvod.
"In this case, Qvod not only provided an online platform for users to upload and publish videos, but users could also locate, download and spread video resources by clicking the URL links through the platform. At the same time, Qvod required users to download its Qvod player in order to watch these videos."
All four defendants have denied the charges against, arguing Qvod itself focused on program design and technical research.
Qvod, as a peer-to-peer transfer site, allowed people to load content, which others could then download.
As such, lawyers defending the four in court have pointed the finger at 3rd party users.
"Qvod was simply a tool used to play videos, and its functions are just like a DVD player. Even though it has been used by others to watch or spread pornography, the responsibility should lie with those users, rather than the defendants."
One of the key arguments discussed during the court hearings is whether Qvod intentionally allowed pornographic material to be spread via its platform.
Qvod founder Wang Xin claims he had established a filtering and reporting system to prevent users from uploading and watching porn videos.
Lawyers for the group also argue no specific laws are in-place in China which force software developers to guarantee the users of their products are not involved in possible illegal acts.
"From the perspective of the criminal law, Qvod, as a video service provider, is not required to conduct substantive examinations about whether the video content is illegal. That duty belongs to the organs of state power, such as the public security department."
However, prosecutors in the case argue the current laws and regulations DO have specified responsibilities for China's online service providers.
"In 2007, China's top radio, film and television regulator, along with the information industry regulator, published a regulation on the administration of Internet-Based Audio-Video Program Services. It stipulates that online audio and video programs provided by developers can not contain any pornographic material."
Prosecutors also argue Qvod's inaction has allowed a number of pornographic videos to go viral on the Internet.
Back in June 2014, the company was fined 260 million yuan or nearly 40 million U.S. dollars for copyright infringement.
Before it was shut down in 2014, Qvod had around 300 million users.