Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Alibaba Sued By Music Companies Over Yahoo! China's Alleged Copyright Infringements

Li Xinran of the Shanghai Daily reports about Alibaba, operator of Yahoo China (in 2005 Alibaba bought Yahoo! China, then Yahoo! bought 40 percent of Alibaba) , who has been sued by eleven music companies, because Yahoo! China allegedly provided lyrics, mobile phone ring tones based on the songs and enticed users to download or listen to them online.

Reuters quoted Yahoo! China spokesman Porter Erisman writing in an email: "Yahoo! China respects intellectual property rights and supports the fight against music piracy. The courts have clearly established the precedent that search engine operators are not liable for content posted on third-party Web sites," referring to search engine Baidu who was sued by music companies in November.

Reuters quoted IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy writing in an email: "We are surprised and frustrated that they should take this role in China given that they are our partners in other parts of the world".

The eleven music companies, including Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group Corp, claim that Yahoo! China allowed online users to freely listen to the songs and download 229 Chinese and English songs, whose copyrights belong to the 11 companies, from April 10, 2006. The eleven music companies claim 5.5 million yuan (US$687,500) in total for their economic losses and requested that the court stop the defendant's copyright infringements.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court has accepted the lawsuit, according to Xinhua news agency. According to Leong May-seey, IFPI's regional director for Asia this happened in the beginning of January this year.

Read Li's article here, and Reuters' article here.

Read Joe Lewis of WebProNews who alleges that the music industry is in denial here.

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