There’s been lots of rumours lately that literary bad boy and professional rally driver Han Han is going to write about Baidu’s disrespect for copyright in his first column for the NYT. In his latest blog post, Han Han looks at all the victories that Baidu’s been winning in court, and wonders aloud if CEO Robin Li’s dad is Li Gang. Hilarious!
Yesterday, negotiations between several publishing industry representatives and Baidu broke down. In the early stages, Shen Haobo, Lu Jinbo and Hou Xiaoqiang had told me on various occasions that Baidu has been causing damage to the entire publishing industry, to which I responded: “Let’s sue them”. They then said several cases had been brought against them, none of which were won. Baidu has plenty of money and access, in effect they pretty much control the courts. They also have first rate public relations capabilities, so in addition they control what is being said about them by most media outlets. I sighed and wondered: “Could it be that Robin Li’s dad is Li Gang?”
At yesterday’s talks, during which we represented 315 authors, I felt that China’s Written Works Copyright Association should have shown their face, because last time they joined the talks with Google, they were so effective that Google eventually pulled out of the country.
In case you forgot, the Google case went roughly like this: Google at the time had scanned the works of Chinese authors, paying out USD 10 for each book, after which they displayed the table of contents and excerpts online. If a user wanted to read the entire content, paid download was available, and revenue was split between Google and the author. Meanwhile, everyone ignored that all this time Baidu Library had been offering free downloads of full content. Subsequently, Baidu mounted a multilateral attack on Google who was actually respecting copyright. The main thrust of this attack was that before scanning, Google must first obtain the author’s permission. Remembering this episode now, we should all be ashamed. There is a difference between Google and Baidu indeed: Google has a sense of shame, so everyone went out there shaming them. Baidu has no shame, so when people saw there was no shaming to be done, they just shrugged and went back to minding their own business… [Translation by Han Han Digest]