Baidu.com Inc., operator of China's most used Internet search site, has been accused of infringing upon the copyrights of some music owners by providing free on-line song downloading services, Qu Jingming, Director-General of the Music Copyright Society of China, said.
The defendant was asked to put an immediate stop to its unlawful actions and issue a public apology. The charge also required the company to pay licensing fees and litigation expenses totaling more than 1.06 million yuan (US$149,107). The defendant said that it would pay close attention to the lawsuit.
A music copyright agency has also asked Baidu to stop all illegal music links.
The lawsuit aims at stopping copyright infringement in order to achieve a win-win situation. This is the first charge against music copyright infringement by Baidu initiated by a copyright management authority, Qu said.
The Music Copyright Society of China began its contact with Baidu regarding an event two years ago, but the problem wasn't handled appropriately. So the music copyright authority appealed to the law. "We hope that Baidu will acknowledge its improper dealings and seek a reasonable business solution. We will refuse to participate in any negotiations until the company ceases its unlawful services," Qu told reporters.
No music can be found after many search results inside Baidu's music section, a report issued by the Music Copyright Society of China stated.
In addition many public users cannot even access their search results.
The company highlighted intellectual property right protection specifically the Internet and the need to conform to relative rules and laws. It has worked out measures to protect owners' rights. Baidu also said that it would make its contribution to the boom in China's digital music market.
The Music Copyright Society of China is the only music copyright administrative organization in Mainland China, founded by the State Copyright Administration of China and China Musicians Association.
In addition, Baidu may promote new business models, such as record promotion and sharing in advertising revenues in order to avoid copyright disputes. The search engine has cooperated with 60 record companies in trying out the new model. It will make greater efforts to promote the digital music industry.
(China.org.cn, by Yang Xi, February 29, 2008)