Baidu in Doo Doo Over Music Piracy

7 Apr

From Ars technica: A major copyright infringement case against Chinese search engine Baidu is moving forward, as Beijing’s No.1 Intermediate People’s Court has agreed to hear claims brought forward by three of the Big Four record labels. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry announced this morning that the three labels were seeking maximum damages of 500,000 yuan (roughly US$71,000) per track on at least 127 tracks, totaling 63,500,000 yuan (US$9 million) in damages. But that could just be the minimum, as the IFPI says Baidu may face damages in the billions.

The three music labels—Universal Music Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Ltd., and Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd.—began legal proceedings against Baidu in February. The move represents a second attempt to hold Baidu responsible for what the IFPI and the labels consider widespread support of piracy. The labels say that Baidu is guilty of “deep-linking” to MP3s on servers throughout the country (many of which are pirated) directly from its web site, alleging that the search engine has become popular largely due to these links.

The first case against Baidu was thrown out in December, but the IFPI filed again after it won a similar case against Yahoo China. Last year, Beijing’s Higher People’s Court ruled that Yahoo China was also liable for copyright infringement after it “deep-linked” a number of pirated MP3s. The IFPI hopes that the new case against Baidu will be judged according to the same copyright laws that granted victory against Yahoo China.

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