After being hounded by the IFPI since April 2006, Yahoo! China – partly owned by one the world’s most prominent internet businesses, Yahoo! – today had its music search (via deep linking) deemed illegal by a Beijing Court, who said the service violates Chinese law by facilitating mass copyright infringement.
Yahoo! China had appealed against the guilty verdict reached in the case in April, but this was today dismissed by the Court.
In an earlier case it was decided that another company, Baidu, also facilitated copyright infringement when it used similar methods to Yahoo!, but under Chinese laws in operation at the time they had committed no offense. However, new copyright laws came into force in 2006 and it was under these that Yahoo! China was found guilty, as explained by John Kennedy, Chairman and CEO of the IFPI:
“We are disappointed that the court did not find Baidu liable, but that judgment was about Baidu’s actions in the past under an old law that is no longer in force.”
The IFPI say that when sites like Yahoo! and Baidu – or even Google – deep-link “to hundreds of thousands of pirate tracks” they are “a huge drain on efforts to develop a legitimate music market in China.”
According to IFPI statistics, music sales in China were just $76 million in 2006, with 99% of all music downloading done in a way that infringes copyright.
They also claim that Yahoo! China and Baidu “account for the bulk of the problem” so presumably now that both site’s searches are going to disappear, Chinese internet piracy will virtually end over night. That’s China sorted, then. Next stop, Russia.
John Kennedy said: “The ruling against Yahoo! China is extremely significant in clarifying copyright rules for internet music services in China. By confirming that Yahoo! China’s service violates copyright under new Chinese laws, the Beijing Court has effectively set the standard for internet companies throughout the country.”
“Our member companies seek partnership, not conflict, with China’s internet companies” he said, presumably as he decides who to take action against next.