Chinese court orders Yahoo China to curb music links

BEIJING Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:12pm EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Beijing court has ordered Yahoo China to delete links to free Web sites offering music-downloads and to pay about 200,000 yuan ($27,200) for facilitating distribution of unlicensed songs by other sites, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

But in the ruling published on a Chinese website linked to the Court, Beijing's No. 2 Intermediate Court said Yahoo China should bear some responsibility for the copyright infringement, although the music was downloaded from servers of third-party Web sites.

Yahoo China said in a statement it would file an appeal.

In early January, music industry giants including Warner Music Group Corp. sued Yahoo China for alleged copyright infringement involving more than 200 unlicensed songs, seeking damages of 5.5 million yuan (about $710,000).

They filed the case through the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a trade organization that aims to combat piracy and promote copyright laws.

Yahoo China's music Web site provides customers with music search services, allowing Internet users to access related music links if they type key words into Yahoo's search engine.

The court said Yahoo China assisted other Web sites by allowing its search-engine users to find the third-party sites where the illegal songs could be downloaded.

But the court added that the third-party Web sites, not Yahoo China, were mainly responsible for the illegal spread of these songs.

Yahoo China spokesman Xu Yang told Xinhua that Chinese Internet search leader Baidu.com was cleared last year of similar allegations.

"If any mistake has been made, Baidu made the same one. The crux of the argument in the two cases are similar," he said.

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