By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer
Four music giants and their local subsidiaries have entered mediation
with Baidu.com, China's largest Internet search engine, over the
recording companies' claims of copyright infringement.
No agreement was reached after more than five hours of discussions
that began Monday at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court,
the official China Daily newspaper said. A judge would resolve the
issue if there is no resolution.
It is the second time this month that Baidu, whose share price went as
high as $153.98 after an initial public offering at $27 on the Nasdaq
Stock Market in August, was in a Chinese court dealing with
accusations of copyright violations. Baidu's U.S. shares were up 22
cents at $77.50 in morning trading Tuesday on the Nasdaq.
Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony BMG and local subsidiaries claim that
Baidu made it easy for its users to illegally download copies of 137
of their songs through the mp3.baidu.com search page. The music
companies are seeking 1.67 million yuan, or $206,000, in compensation,
the China Daily newspaper said.
A man who answered the phone at the court Tuesday said the case was
still under mediation but said he was unclear about what progress had
made. He refused to give his name.
According to the China Daily, Baidu defended itself by saying that it
is simply providing basic search functions, not downloading
services. The company also says it advocates improving copyright
protection on the Internet and promises to provide protection if a
company can prove it owns the rights to a song, the newspaper said.
Baidu's lawyer, Li Decheng of the Zhonglun W&D Law Firm in Beijing,
said Tuesday that he could not comment on the case without his
client's permission. Cynthia He, a Beijing spokeswoman for Baidu, said
the company had no comment.
Baidu's MP3 search page is hugely popular among young, increasingly
tech-savvy Chinese. Analysts say it has grown into China's largest
search engine, prompting U.S. search giant Google Inc. to buy 2.6
percent of the company last year.
On Sept. 16, the People's Court of Haidian District in Beijing ordered
Baidu to pay 68,000 yuan, or about $8,400, to mainland music company
Shanghai Busheng Music Culture Media for unauthorized downloads of 46
songs. Baidu is appealing.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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