Deep linking does not infringe copyright in China

February 2010


The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court has held that deep linking to sites hosting MP3 files, whether legal or not, does not violate copyright law in China, clearing China’s dominant search engine Baidu of copyright charges brought by the IFPI, the music industry trade group, saying that merely providing search results doesn’t qualify as infringement. The case, launched in February 2008 accused Baidu and a handful of other Chinese companies of supporting piracy. The charge was that Baidu’s results provided links to file sharing sites and, in many cases, direct links to illegally shared MP3s on various servers around the world. The IFPI said it unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a resolution with Baidu, leaving it with no other choice but to sue over the deep linking practice. The Beijing court disagreed with the definition of copyright infringement. In its ruling, the court said that the IFPI failed to identify any of the sites that were allegedly hosting the illegal music, and Baidu itself was not hosting the songs. The Baidu case actually represents the IFPI’s second go at the search engine—its first case, brought in 2005, was thrown out by the same court saying that the files were not infringing on anyone’s copyright.

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