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Internet Portals Fight Plagiarism Case
Sina and Sohu, China's two leading Internet content providers, brought their business rivalry to court yesterday as Sina accused its arch-rival of plagiarism, which the latter denied.

During the first court hearing held yesterday in Beijing Second People's Court, Sina accused Sohu of stealing cartoons and news content from Sina.com pages late last year. It asked Sohu to pay compensation of 300,000 yuan (US$36,000).

Sohu denied the accusations, and said Sina lacked evidence of plagiarism.

Sina showed the court some hard copies of Sohu web pages and accused the company of stealing its cartoon designs, which were specially designed for mobile phone users to download their products.

Sina called witnesses from Beijing notarial departments. Notarial papers testified that the Sohu pictures had been posted online later than the Sina ones, and that the Sohu pictures had nearly the same designs as Sina's.

Sina used the same method to try to prove the plagiarism charge relating to news content.

Lawyers representing Sohu argued that the hard copies of the web pages were of very dubious reliability.

Though notarial papers showed that the hard copies had been printed directly from a computer, Sohu's lawyers argued that this did not necessarily mean that the pages on the computer had been taken from the Internet.

The court discussion lasted more than two hours yesterday morning, and the judge adjourned the case. No date has been decided for the resumption of the hearing.

Sina lawyer Cui Guobing said after yesterday's hearing that the trial would give Sina useful experience of such disputes.

He said the dispute was largely a result of the short history of the Internet in China.

The latest case is the second confrontation since April between the two Internet companies, which both have NASDAQ listings in the United States. In April, they quarreled over which one was the official news partner of the Chinese football team during the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

(China Daily July 17, 2002)

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