If you think only Chinese people use Baidu, you’re dead wrong. Recently, a friend of ours in the US complained that he was unable to find any more music through Baidu’s MP3 search service. Not a surprise really, since that treasure trove of pirated music that is now getting sued for big bucks in a Beijing court by some of the biggest names in music including Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony BMG and their local subsidiaries, Cinepoly, Go East and Gold Label for the infringement of the copyright of “hundreds of songs”. All eyes are on this court case now as this is one that may force Baidu to shut down its MP3 search service.
In an earlier case, a Chinese court has apparently ruled that MP3 searches are illegal and ChinaMP3.com was fined RMB310,000 yuan in four cases involving 70 songs.Netease, one of the top three web portals in China, has also shut down its MP3 search over copyright infringement concerns.
A quick check with friends in Germany also found that Baidu’s MP3 search is also no longer available there. Like in the US, users are now directed to Baidu’s video search instead. Interestingly, AltaVista.com, one of our favourite search engines in the early days of the Internet (oh how long ago is that now), has found a new niche in MP3 search, it seems. A search for Jay Chou (周杰伦) yielded 26 search results, “Michael Jackson” yielded 12,936 results while “Madonna” yielded 17,936 results.
Despite all the legal hiccups, the god of fortune seems to be smiling on Baidu. It has just broken into the NASDAQ Top 100, a big deal apparently because Baidu is the first Chinese stock to do so.
If you are reading this in other parts of North America and Europe, please let us know if mp3.baidu.com is banned in your country.