China Internet firms sue Baidu in piracy battle

Nov 13, 2013
A Sohu.com employee inspects the Sohu.com website in Beijing, October 23, 2007

Two major Chinese Internet firms—backed by Hollywood—are suing the Asian giant's leading search engine Baidu over copyright violations, they said Wednesday, in a rare internal challenge to the country's rampant piracy.

The two firms—leading Web portal Sohu and top online video company Youku Tudou—are seeking as much as 300 million yuan ($49 million) in compensation from Baidu, which they say has committed a "serious violation" of their rights by letting users access pirated material online.

"We cannot keep competing because where thieves and robbers are having their way, law-abiding companies cannot survive," Sohu Group chairman and CEO Charles Zhang said in a statement.

If such practices continue, he added, "nobody will invest in content, and China's online video industry will face the (same) sad situation as the music industry, which has already been destroyed by piracy".

The Motion Picture Association of America is backing the move, as are Chinese Internet titan Tencent, Wanda Films and TV producer Huayi Brothers.

In a statement, Baidu defended its anti-piracy efforts, noting that it filters out unauthorised content through an automated mechanism and also aims to take down pirated material within 24 hours of users flagging it.

Baidu headquarters in Beijing on July 22, 2010

"Piracy is a difficult problem in the domestic video industry," it said in the Chinese-language statement. "In the future, Baidu will continue to step up its efforts to support the development of legal video."

Baidu, founded in 2000, held more than 80 percent of China's search market in the first quarter of this year, according to a recent report by independent analysts iResearch.

The search giant has in recent months moved to consolidate its position in China's mobile internet, but faces accusations from online video firms that it is "distributing content without authorisation while engaging in activities that are beyond the scope of a search engine".

In a joint statement, the video and film companies accused Baidu of harming their business by using links that allow users to directly access content without having to visit third-party sites.

They also charged that Baidu has profited from advertising revenue-sharing agreements with illegal online video sites.

"It's very technical, but we have to explain to the public that (Baidu's) behaviour is 100% piracy," Zhang told AFP, adding that the online video industry will be "completely destroyed" if the current trend continues.

China has the world's largest online population, with 564 million Internet users at the end of last year according to authorities.

Explore further: Baidu profit falls 4.5 percent on higher costs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China's Baidu buys mobile app firm for $1.9 bn

Jul 16, 2013

China's leading web search engine Baidu is to buy a smartphone app distribution firm for $1.9 billion, it said Tuesday, in what is believed to be the largest takeover in the country's Internet industry.

Game developers sue China's Baidu over copyright

Nov 21, 2011

A Chinese industry group of game developers said Monday it was suing Baidu for more than 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) for copyright infringement, the latest such case to hit the Internet giant.

Search engine Baidu says profit up 36 percent

Feb 05, 2013

Baidu Inc., which operates China's most popular search engine, said Tuesday its quarterly profit rose 36 percent as an economic rebound helped to boost advertising spending.

China's Baidu, music labels launch online service

Jul 19, 2011

(AP) -- Baidu Inc., which operates China's most popular search engine, said Tuesday it will distribute music from three global labels in a deal that its partners say could help clean up China's piracy-plagued music market.

Recommended for you

Google made failed bid for Spotify

10 hours ago

Internet titan Google tried last year to buy streaming music service Spotify but backed off for reasons including a whopping price tag, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Thieves got into 1,000 StubHub accounts

11 hours ago

(AP)—Cyber thieves got into more than 1,000 StubHub customers' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets for events through the online ticket reseller, a law enforcement official and the company said.

Putin signs law seen as crimping social media

22 hours ago

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a law requiring Internet companies to store all personal data of Russian users at data centres in Russia, a move which could chill criticism on foreign social networking ...

User comments : 0