Yahoo China, Baidu, Sohu Accused Of Music Piracy - InformationWeek

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2/6/2008
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Yahoo China, Baidu, Sohu Accused Of Music Piracy

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry claims that more than 99% of music files distributed in China are pirated.

An international music organization is going after several companies in China it claims violate copyright laws.

The IFPI -- or International Federation of the Phonographic Industry -- announced this week that it has filed legal proceedings against Baidu and Sohu, as well as Sohu's associate company, Sogou. The group also named Yahoo China in a statement outlining its legal strategy to combat music piracy.

The group cited a recent ruling by a Beijing court that found Yahoo China's music service is illegal under Chinese law. IFPI said the company hasn't complied with the court's ruling and it sent letters last month to Yahoo's U.S. leaders urging them to use its influence to stop "continuing breach of copyright law." This week, IFPI asked the court to force Yahoo China to comply with the ruling.

Representatives with Yahoo China, Baidu, and Sohu could not be reached immediately for comment.

IFPI also announced that Universal Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Hong Kong have filed claims against Baidu seeking removal of all illegal links to their copyrighted tracks.

Universal Music Limited, Gold Label Entertainment Limited, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Hong Kong have also requested that Sohu, an official Beijing Olympic Games sponsor, stop encouraging copyright violations through recommendations and charts through Sogou's deep links.

The claims against Baidu, Sohu, and Sogou are expected to be served on the respective companies by the court after the Chinese New Year.

John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of IFPI, said that China wants to partner with technology companies but partnerships can't be built on "the basis of systemic theft of copyrighted music."

"China's Internet companies have a unique opportunity to demonstrate respect for copyright, take a stand against piracy and engage in responsible partnership with music companies," he said in a statement announcing the legal proceedings. "It's a matter of great regret that, despite the clear precedent laid down by the Yahoo China judgment, those Internet companies are instead choosing blatant violation of copyright, with the inevitable and unwanted litigation that follows in its wake."

IFPI said all of the companies deliver music by referring users through deep links to third-party sites with illegal copies of copyright-protected music.

"Such services have been confirmed as in breach of copyright by the December judgment of the Beijing Higher People's Court," IFPI explained. "Each of them is a driver of copyright abuse in China, where the huge potential for the online music sector is being stymied by copyright theft."

IFPI claims that more than 99% of music files distributed in China are pirated.

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