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 Music Firms Criticize Baidu Over Piracy

2008-06-04    The Wall Street Journal


BEIJING -- Chinese and international record companies stepped up thei battle with Baidu.com Inc., calling for advertisers to consider punishing China's Internet-search leader for its alleged complicity in music piracy.

A joint statement Tuesday by three industry associations and several of the biggest domestic and foreign companies in the music business called Baidu "the largest and most incorrigible purveyor of pirated music in China." The statement said that "resolutely countering Baidu" has "become a common goal in China" and that the group of companies and associations has sent a letter to advertisers asking them "to carefully consider whether they should continue to place advertisements on pirating media."

Music companies have long complained that Baidu, which gets by far th most traffic of any Web-search site in China, has facilitated piracy by providing links in its music-search results to unlicensed versions of songs on other sites. Its search engine provides such "deep links" to thousands of sites that Baidu has been the target of veral lawsuits by record companies in Chinese courts.

Baidu, which lists shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Tuesday, the company said it "believes in copyrigh protection" and "continues to fight piracy on the Internet by developing innovative business models." Baidu said it has entered into agreements with several music companies to offer free advertising-supported music using licensed versions of songs.

Tuesday's statement was signed by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents international music companies the Music Copyright Society of China; and the China Audio-Video Copyright Association. The groups said record companies that had signed the statement included Universal Music Group, EMI Group PLC Sony BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group Corp., in addition Chinese companies like Taihe Rye Music and R2G, a company that helps record companies distribute licensed content online in China.

The statement is the first issued jointly by the three music-industry groups, organizers said. The companies involved cover more than 80% of China's total music market, it said.


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