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Three global record companies have launched legal proceedings against China's top Internet search engine Baidu.com Inc, accusing it of violating copyright by giving access to music files, an international music trade body said.
Universal Music Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Ltd and Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd have asked a court to order Baidu to remove all links on its music delivery service to copyright-infringing tracks that they own the rights to, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said in a statement.
We can't get back at them by doing the same thing because they don't have any IP anyone wants.
If they are listed on our Markets they need to start complying.
[edited by: TheGuyAboveYou at 6:26 pm (utc) on Feb. 5, 2008]
It will be very interesting to see what happans when western companies try and sue Chinese companies.
Yahoo China also faces proceedings after refusing to comply with a December ruling by the Beijing Higher People's Court which confirmed that the company violated Chinese law by committing mass copyright infringement, IFPI added.
I'm not in favour of xenophobia and thinly-veiled protectionism either, and consider for a moment that this action might even be cover for such bad behaviour. Stranger things have happened before.
I'm interested to see whether this Baidu case will make a change in the most appealing part of their service (for many). Some China based members have mentioned that without the MP3 finder it may be a more level playing field in the SE market.
So I'm cheering for Baidu even if I'm very into protecting intellectual property, and even if I see them as somewhat of a threat. [The litle I understand of Chinese Intellectual Property law makes me uncomfortable to say the least]
Also the point of view that pointing to copyrighted material in itself is copyright infringement is just plain silly: It's like the newspapers would be accessories to murder by writing about how murders are committed, or the yellow pages would be by a list of places where the murdered bought the gun, or the white pages by providing the address of the victim?
Pointing to information should not be wrong, as long as you don't copy somebodies list of pointers.
The music industry should get ready for the moment their customers start to pressure their government into changing the laws the music industry is now (ab)using to remain in control.
If it was unintentional I'd agree, but if you've been asked to remove specific links to specific pirated files and you actively refuse to do so, then you ARE helping piracy. Freedom of speech does not extend to directly helping people commit a crime even after you've received a warning that you're doing so.
Having said all this, the sheer ease of piracy on the internet means the old recordings-based business model is doomed. The music companies which will do best are the ones who realise this first and embrace an alternative model.
The only way forward is some kind of licence system based around a subscription or advertising, which is what radio stations already do to provide free music to listeners.
Universal music recently did a deal with Nokia where selected phones will have a "comes with music" brand, which means if you buy that phone you can download as many Universal-owned tracks as you want for a year and keep them all forever (on that phone, at least). It's not DRM-free, but it is definitely a huge step away from the idea that you pay for each track or album. Instead they're basically getting a lump sum from the sale of the phone, and don't care how much music the phone's owner downloads. It makes less profit, but it does at least make some profit which is better than the zero they get from piracy.
Piracy will always be cheaper, but if legal purchases are more convenient then there will be a way to make legitimate money from music.