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May 12, 2011

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Baidu loses copyright case over 5 novels

BAIDU.COM, China's largest search engine, has been ordered to pay about 550,000 yuan (US$84,615) in compensation to, a popular literary website, for copyright infringement, a Shanghai court said yesterday.

The Luwan District People's Court ruled Baidu infringed Qidian's copyright for five novels and was responsible for compensation.

Baidu said it has already filed an appeal.

Qidian sued in March 2010, saying its users could use Baidu to find links to pirated versions of five novels. Qidian owned the Internet copyrights to the novels.

Hou Xiaoqiang, legal representative of Qidian, had claimed on his microblog that original works of Chinese literature will soon disappear if Baidu's literary database was allowed to continue operating.

Qidian had asked Baidu repeatedly to delete the links but some were still available on the search engine, the court heard.

Qidian said the links on Baidu sent users to websites that shared profits with Baidu for traffic received from its search engine.

"Baidu helped the websites violate the plaintiff's rights and should bear responsibility," said You Minjian, Qidian's lawyer.

Cell phone users could access the five novels on, You added.

Qidian lost significant revenue as its website received fewer page views and less people paid to download the novels, You told the court.

Baidu argued it had deleted all infringing links. The ones that remained were either invalid or sent users to web pages unrelated to the novels, Baidu said.

It also denied providing the novels on its website for handset users. It just transferred third-party websites into pages adapted for cell phones, so appeared as the website address, the company said.

The search engine has been involved in other copyright disputes. A group of writers and musicians protested after Baidu provided a large number of literary and music works free of charge on its website. Baidu eventually agreed to delete the items due to the protest.


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