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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

Wikipedia Criticises Chinese Search Engine

 5:15 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

The group behind the Wikipedia online encyclopedia has accused Baidu.com, China's most popular internet search engine, of being the worst violator of its copyrights. Florence Nibart-Devouard, chair of the Board of Trustees at the Wikimedia Foundation yesterday asked the company again to give credit where it is due.

The Wikimedia Foundation has never sued a copyright violator and has no plans to take Baidu to court. But Wikimedia is asking more publicly for the Chinese search company to respect its copyright licence by simply attributing Wikipedia entries that have been copied on Baidu Baike, the company's Chinese language web encyclopedia.

Wikipedia Criticises Chinese Search Engine [pcadvisor.co.uk]



 5:26 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

A hint to Baidu - just put a reference to Wikipedia using the nofollow tag just like Wikipedia does.


 6:26 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

A Chinese company stealing intellectual property without any attribution?



 6:33 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

bcolflesh - that was agood one - they realy copying everything there.


 7:31 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think Wikipedia is being extremely naive by asking for credit. Chinese companies don't just copy games, videos and other content but entire devices. You can find counterfeit versions of almost any popular phone, computer or MP3 player in Hong Kong, sometimes before the real thing has even launched properly. Copyright in China isn't a question of honour, it's a question of what you can get away with. That might strike us in the West as wrong, but if they're earning an average of 1000 dollars per year then it's hard to make much of a moral case against them.

On top of that, if Wikipedia admits there's no legal threat, then in effect they're saying there is no effective copyright at all. It makes you wonder if there's any real point in GNU-style attribution licences when there are no legal teeth to enforce them.

-- A hint to Baidu - just put a reference to Wikipedia using the nofollow tag just like Wikipedia does. --

Or what? What will happen if they don't? Absolutely nothing, Wikipedia themselves say so.

Lord Majestic

 7:47 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

AFAIK Baidu is expanding into Europe - copyright can be upheld there.


 9:39 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia should just put its money where its mouth is and call in the lawyers. Any other response is nothing but an admission of defeat.


 9:42 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

-- AFAIK Baidu is expanding into Europe - copyright can be upheld there. --

It can (in theory) be upheld in China too, but the problem seems to be Wikipedia/Wikimedia's reluctance to even bring a case against any copyright violators.

If they don't ever, EVER sue anyone, and publicly say they aren't going to sue anyone, then their copyright is effectively worthless. The licence might as well not exist.

They're caught between a rock and a hard place: their licence requires that they are credited, but if they enforce the licence there will be damaging headlines like "site fined for quoting from Wikipedia".

There's the added complication that many articles in Wikipedia itself are lifted from copyright sources, albeit without the knowledge of Wikipedia/Wikimedia. If they successfully sue other people for copying Wikipedia articles without permission, then the owners of sites copied by Wikipedia will start suing them.


 10:22 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder of Dmoz has ever sued anybody for copyright infringements ;).


 11:42 pm on Aug 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hilarious. Very few of the articles I'm interested in, in Wikipedia have references, let alone links to the original sources.


 12:40 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

lol ... Chinese copying why would anyone be shocked ... they have copied almost everything in United States.


 1:14 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Putting aside the whole "China and Copying" thing, let's look at some of the core issues here.

Wikipedia is alleging that Baidu is using their content without giving proper citation as per Wikipedia's licence and terms. As I understand Baidu Baike is a large Wiki with some content taken from Wikipedia but the majority of content supplied by volunteer writers. If content is copied from Wikipedia to Baike then of course it should be cited correctly, but you run into the problem of whether the content is being copied in an official manner, or being entered by individuals on an ad-hoc basis which then affects the "policability" of said copyright. If individuals are copying tracts from Wikipedia, from snippets to whole pages, then the challenge of policing multitude individuals for infractions of various degrees is nigh on impossible. But at least they are trying to prevent such copyright ciolation in there terms:-
It [Baidu] expressly tells users that any contributions which quote works held under the GNU Free Documentation License, which Wikipedia uses, must follow the restrictions on that licence.

I might add, it is the same problem that Wikipedia faces itself by allowing anyone to enter content at will. How do you ensure that everything in Wikipedia is itself free from any copyright violation? One could play the "get thyne own house in order" card here.

Bu then, as always, there is more to the story. From the above article,
Wikipedia also finds it difficult to compete against Baidu Baike due to strict censorship laws in China.
Wikipedia is facing the problem of the Great Firewall of China, having it's own content blocked from Mainland users, whereas the Baidu-Wikipedia content is available. One has to wonder then if there are other motives at play here.



 1:28 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Very interesting analysis Woz, I think you might be on to something with the firewall and lack of competition thing. Perhaps Wikipedia feels annoyance not at their articles being copied but that they're copied by a site which has access to users that they don't.

The West has tried to lean on China to enforce copyright more strictly, perhaps Wikipedia is trying to get Baidu associated with this outside pressure?

And as you say, Wikipedia's own copyright clearance processes are so close to non-existent that they would find it almost impossible to successfully sue anyone else.


 1:52 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Baidu is a Cayman Islands (British Crown Colony) company listed on the Nasdaq. It's not as clear cut as it seems. I think the Wikimedia Foundation should file a DMCA notice based upon them undertaking US operations through Nasdaq listing.


 3:43 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

baidu.com is one of china's most popular search engines so i guess you should see them taking some action on the matter soon.

[edited by: Woz at 3:49 am (utc) on Aug. 7, 2007]
[edit reason] Tidying up. [/edit]


 8:03 am on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

A hint to Baidu - just put a reference to Wikipedia using the nofollow tag just like Wikipedia does

Or even just put in small grey lettering at the foot of the article... there's no must to have the link... is there?


 12:04 pm on Aug 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Publicly exhibiting in the 'Hall of Shame' - clever move, and much cheaper and more efficient instead of sending DMCAs or lawyers.

And in the spotlight of negative publicity, the other side hopefully will start to think about moving away from the bad neighbourhood of the "Chinese copying everything".

Go, Wiki, go.


 2:18 pm on Aug 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sorry for dredging this thread up again...I've been on vacation ;)

AFAIK Baidu is expanding into Europe - copyright can be upheld there.

That turned out to be a false rumor. We covered it here: Baidu heading for Europe [webmasterworld.com]

My thoughts about this issue are very much in line with those of Woz. Wikipedia's own sources are very suspect so it's hard to throw all the weight toward the whole China = copyright infringement crowd. It does sound like there's some wholesale copying going on, but people, it's a wiki. ;)

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