China's Baidu again in hot seat for MP3 search

The leading search engine in China is being sued by two music industry trade groups for alleged copyright violations, once again highlighting the trouble Baidu has had stopping infringement.

Baidu saw immense growth after adding an MP3 search tool on its Web site that lets users find and download a variety of Chinese music. The site still allows users to search for and listen to song files for free.

The Music Copyright Society of China and R2G, the largest music distributor in China, have joined together to accuse Baidu of "providing music listening, broadcasting and downloading services in various forms on its Web site without approval, and through unfettered piracy, earning huge advertising revenue on its huge number of hits."

More specifically, the Music Copyright Society of China says Baidu provided links to 50 copyrighted songs, and now wants proper compensation.

Previously, Universal Music, Sony BMG and Warner Music banded together to file a lawsuit accusing Baidu of linking to thousands of Web sites that allow users to download copyrighted content. Each music studio has requested Baidu to remove all links to such sites.

Baidu faces added pressure in the digital music market after Google announced it will work with Top100 to offer licensed music for users to download at no cost.

China is known as a hotbed of piracy, but the Chinese government has recently taken a renewed interest in battling the problem at a basic level. International music industry trade group IFPI estimates that up to 99 percent of all music shared within China's borders is pirated, and sites such as Baidu allegedly help promote copyright infringement.

As of press time, Baidu representatives did not respond to an e-mail sent by BetaNews seeking comment.

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