Baidu faces fresh legal challenge in China

April 2008

Record labels, internet  

China ‘s leading search engine, Baidu is facing a new lawsuit just a month after it won a similar court challenge which freed Baidu from responsibility for illegal download sites linked too. An action against Yahoo at the same time was more successful as the action held that Yahoo was guilty of contributory infringement after failing to act on take down notices targeting links to illegal sites – sent from the labels.

China ‘s music rights organization, the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) and a leading Chinese digital music distributor, R2G announced the anti-piracy action against Baidu. MCSC have filed a lawsuit, citing infringement of at least 50 songs and is seeking compensation totaling one million yuan ($140,619) and an end to alleged violations. R2G has also issued a letter threatening legal action against Baidu requesting the de-linking of all its unlicensed content. Baidu asserts it has placed great importance on intellectual property rights protection and formulated measures to safeguard the rights of intellectual property right holders and the search engine claims that it has been exploring new types of commercial models to tackle copyright disputes, such as disc promotions and advertisements. In December, the People’s High Court of Beijing ruled that Baidu’s music download services did not infringe music content copyright as alleged by five label companies, including Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal Music. “We are confident that we will win the case this time, because the timing is different,” says Guo Chunfei, a partner at Beijing Professional Business Law Office, the attorney representing MCSC who explained that the reason why Baidu won the last case was that the ruling was based on the Regulation on the Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information, which only came into force on July 1, 2006. That regulation said that companies should take legal responsibilities if they are aware that their behavior might infringe on other parties’ rights. However, the first case against Baidu was filed in 2005, before the new law went into force (but see IFPI wrongly blames Chinese law for Baidu Loss at

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