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Beijing Court Rules Against Yahoo China
[December 26, 2007]

Beijing Court Rules Against Yahoo China

TMCnet Contributing Editor
The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) has announced that a court in Beijing has upheld a ruling against Yahoo China over its search engine’s links to outside Web sites that carried illegally copied music.
IFPI, representing companies including Warner Music Group Corp., Sony BMG (News - Alert) and Universal Vivendi, had accused Yahoo China of violating copyrights because of links between its search engine and Web sites with 229 illegally copied songs.

In April, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court had ruled that Yahoo China facilitated the infringement of copyrights and awarded 210,000 yuan ($27,000) in damages. However, Yahoo China appealed against the ruling, stating that search engines should not be liable for content on outside Web sites.
John Kennedy, Chairman and CEO at IFPI, stated in a statement that the ruling against Yahoo China is extremely significant in clarifying copyright rules for internet music services in China.
“By confirming that Yahoo China’s service violates copyright under new Chinese laws, the Beijing Court has effectively set the standard for Internet companies throughout the country,” he added.
Earlier, music companies had lost a similar lawsuit earlier against Chinese search engine Inc. However, China, according to reports, changed its laws on enforcement of copyrights and other intellectual property after that, and Yahoo China was sued under the new system.
Expressing his disappointment that the court did not find Baidu liable, Kennedy explained that the judgment was about Baidu’s actions in the past under an old law that is no longer in force.
“The judgment is irrelevant since it has effectively been superseded by the Yahoo China ruling.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,” he said.
Kennedy also pointed out that China could be a fantastic digital music market if Internet companies like Yahoo China, and their owners, commit themselves to respecting copyright and protecting creators and producers.
He remarked, “What is deeply regrettable is that Yahoo China repeatedly walked away from the chance to pioneer a legitimate music service in partnership with record companies and instead chose to engage in lengthy and needless litigation.”
China is reportedly a leading source of pirated copies of music, movies and other goods. Operators of pirate Web sites offer music, games and other services to attract users and make money from advertising or online commerce.
Porter Erisman, spokesman at Yahoo China, told the press that, Yahoo China hoped to create a licensed music download service in partnership with foreign and Chinese music companies.
“Yahoo China was negotiating with the companies when the IFPI lawsuit was filed and talks were suspended early this year,” Erisman said. He also added that the company hoped the latest court ruling would “add clarity and allow the talks to resume.”
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