Alas, Baidu’s ill-gotten intellectual property gravy train is coming to a screeching halt.
Having been found guilty of copyright infringement, Baidu Inc., has been ordered to pay 550,000 RMB to Qidian.com, a literary website owned by Shanda Literature, a division of the Shanghai-based Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd.
The Luwan District People’s Court ruled in favor of Qidian, who filed a lawsuit in March of last year, claiming Baidu infringed on their copyright of five separate novels by providing links to pirated versions through their search engine.
Global Times hails the trial as a ‘landmark copyright case’:
The conviction is seen as a major boost for writers and publishers who claimed that Baidu, labeled by the Office of the US Trade Representative in February as a “notorious market” for pirated and counterfeit goods, has been a frequent violator of the copyrights of their works.
“As an Internet service provider, Baidu indirectly infringed on the copyrights of Shanda Literature as it did not remove unauthorized literary works from its website immediately after being informed by Shanda,” according to the verdict handed down by Luwan District People’s Court on Tuesday.
You Minjian, an attorney representing Shanda, told the Global Times on Wednesday, “The losses of Shanda Literature resulting from Baidu’s copyright violations were immense. Economic compensation alone can hardly solve the problem. Yet the ruling is quite satisfactory as it showed the commitment of authorities to copyright protection.”
The ruling follows the recent dispute between Baidu and a group of Chinese authors, who accused the search giant of being a ‘totally corrupt thief company’. A letter was sent by It-boy Han Han and over 40 other authors to Baidu on March 15th, demanding that Baidu publicly apologize for providing free downloadable books on their Baidu Wenku service, end copyright infringement on their site, and compensate the authors for their stolen works.
After an initial refusal to apologize, Baidu caved in to public criticism and released contrite statements online by March 26th, vowing to tackle the copyright situation within three days’ time.
By March 29th, Baidu had deleted some 2.8 million files from their Wenku service, and set up the Baidu Wenku Copyright Collaboration platform, promising ‘sales commissions, advertising commissions, promotion and marketing, and copyright protection to writers and other copyright holders who work with Baidu.’
And after a little outside pressure, it looks like Baidu’s also cleaning up its music downloading act. The court victories of yesteryear are no more, apparently.
Now then, what’s to be done about Wikipedia?
By Fan Huang