Baidu beaten in landmark copyright case

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, May 12, 2011
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A Shanghai district court has ordered search engine giant Baidu to pay half a million yuan ($75,700) in compensation to Shanda Literature, an original content provider website, in a major copyright lawsuit case.

The conviction is seen as a major boost for writers and publishers who claimed that Baidu, labeled by the Office of the US Trade Representative in February as a "notorious market" for pirated and counterfeit goods, has been a frequent violator of the copyrights of their works.

"As an Internet service provider, Baidu indirectly infringed on the copyrights of Shanda Literature as it did not remove unauthorized literary works from its website immediately after being informed by Shanda," according to the verdict handed down by Luwan District People's Court on Tuesday.

Shanda Literature is part of Shanghai-based Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, an interactive entertainment media company.

Baidu also provided unauthorized literary works on its search engine instead of directing Internet users to a third website, according to the verdict.

"The behavior is considered the same as copying and uploading. Therefore it directly violates the copyrights of Shanda Literature," court spokesperson Wu Yiheng told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Baidu said it will appeal to a higher court, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The company refused to comment on Wednesday.

Speculation that Shanda is buying shares of online file-sharing website have been circulating online. If true, it would make Shanda a potential competitor of Baidu Wenku (Baidu Libary), according to

"Over 95 percent of famous novels in Shanda Literature can be found in Baidu Wenku, and all of them are accessible without any charge. This will result in roughly 1 billion yuan of economic losses for us," Shanda CEO Hou Xiaoqiang was quoted by as saying.

Shanda decided to sue Baidu in late 2009 and the case was filed at the Luwan District People's Court in 2010, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

You Minjian, an attorney representing Shanda, told the Global Times on Wednesday, "The losses of Shanda Literature resulting from Baidu's copyright violations were immense. Economic compensation alone can hardly solve the problem. Yet the ruling is quite satisfactory as it showed the commitment of authorities to copyright protection."

Zhang Hongbo, deputy director-general of the China Written Works Copyright Society, told Beijing Youth Daily that this verdict is the first major victory for the publishing industry against Baidu, which is said to be involved in other copyright controversies.

Baidu's mp3 search service, which provides links to free but frequently pirated music downloads, has drawn fire from the recording industry.

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