China gently chides Baidu over deep-linking MP3 naughtiness

Artist Punishment unknown

China's most popular search engine has had its wrist slapped by Beijing officials for allegedly providing illegal music downloads via its MP3 service.

According to a report on Xinhua, which is China's state-run news agency, 14 websites will be "punished", after ignoring repeated warnings to remove links to files that the Chinese government said should be taken offline.

It singled out the Baidu MP3 site but didn't name any of the 13 other websites in the report.

Baidu said it would respond by removing the links to the files highlighted by the Chinese government.

"We are aware that songs require approval and have sought to comply with previous notifications from the ministry of culture. But search engine indexing is a continuous process and some files may have reappeared in results," a spokesman for the company told Reuters.

In March this year, the US government labelled Baidu a "deep linking" hub spewing out location details about where pirated content is stored online.

The US administration said last month that it wasn't taking any action against the individual websites mentioned in its review of so-called "Notorious Markets", which included Baidu.

But it did say it was "actively engaged" with its trading partners to "seek appropriate action against counterfeiting and piracy".

However, Beijing did not reveal what punishments would be meted out to the websites it had accused of providing access to "unregistered 'illicit' music" downloads.

Separately, China's culture ministry said it would "punish" 20 online gaming outfits, including Shenzhen Xunlei Network Technology Ltd, for what it described as using "vulgar" promo methods. ®

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