A Chinese court last month found Yahoo! China liable for copyright infringement by deep-linking to songs. Both Yahoo! and Baidu, China's largest search engine, provide search tools for finding music, most of which is unlicensed.
The court found that under a previous law Baidu is not liable for copyright infringement by deep linking, upholding a November 2006 decision.
In a statement issued before Christmas, the international music trade group IFPI, welcomed the decision by saying it set a new precedent.
"We are disappointed that the court did not find Baidu liable, but that judgment was about Baidu’s actions in the past under an old law that is no longer in force. The judgment is irrelevant since it has effectively been superseded by the Yahoo! China ruling. Baidu should now prepare to have its actions judged under the new law. We are confident a court would hold Baidu liable as it has Yahoo! China."
As Ed Peto in Beijing explained here recently, most digital music in China is an unlicensed, untagged MP3 file:
"All attempts by the Chinese government to combat online MP3 piracy, including all public ‘victories’ against pirates, should be seen as totally superficial – a lip service to the lobbying western majors. Internet MP3 piracy remains endemic."
The case against Baidu was originally brought by EMI in autumn 2005. A year ago, EMI announced a partnership with Baidu to promote its digital catalog; the litigation continued.
Baidu announced the death of its CFO, Shawn Wang, in an accident on Dec 27.®