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July 1, 2010

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Baidu loses nude photos case

BAIDU.COM was yesterday ordered to pay 22,000 yuan (US$3,240) in compensation and publish an apology on its website to "Maritime girl," the victim of a vindictive ex-boyfriend who posted nude photos of her online, for offering links to the pictures.

It's the first infringement case that China's largest search engine has lost, Jing'an District People's Court judges said after the ruling. was also ordered to break all connections to the photos and delete the victim's personal information from its website.

The court ruled Baidu should pay 20,000 yuan in compensation for mental anguish and cover her economic loss of 2,000 yuan.

The plaintiff surnamed Yin was known as "Maritime girl" or "hai yun nu" in Chinese because she graduated from Shanghai Maritime University.

Yin, 26, became an online sensation in May 2009 when her former boyfriend surnamed Zhu posted naked pictures and videos of her on the Internet.

Yin said in court that Zhu sought revenge because they had split up and she refused to reconcile with him.

At the height of her notoriety, typing "hai yun nu" into a search engine generated about 58 million entries.

Links to the images and even her personal information were still available on Baidu even though she complained to the website about it on May 15, 2009. Her lawyer posted a statement in a newspaper three days later saying legal action would be taken against anyone spreading the pictures.

In her suit, the plaintiff said Baidu neglected its duty to monitor content and delete the pictures. The failure to act violated her privacy and damaged her reputation, she charged.

Baidu argued that it can't automatically judge whether the links in a search violate the rights of others. Baidu also said its computer system can't distinguish all indecent photographs from innocent ones.

Baidu said it had tried to erase links to Yin's pictures, but it was impossible for the website to delete all images or links because some netizens continued to upload the items to third-party sites. Baidu argued that it couldn't control content at other websites.

The court ruled Baidu didn't take necessary measures to screen out search results of the key words "hai yun nu," which were widely known by the public due to media coverage.

Yin could be recognized in most of the photos. The pictures would lead most to think she acted indecently, which would damage her reputation, the court said.

Zhu was criminally detained last summer for uploading the indecent photos of Yin.


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