National Business Daily, 3/23/11
Wang Zhicheng, deputy chief of the Department of Copyright Administration of China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), recently announced that Chinese internet company Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) has submitted a plan to eliminate copyright infringement on its websites, and will be monitored by the Beijing Municipal Copyright Bureau. The department will take punitive action against Baidu if any further infractions are reported.
Wang said the department had ordered Baidu to submit its reform plans in late February, which Baidu delivered to the department in early March.
Baidu's Wenku document sharing platform does not fall under "online safe harbor principle," according to Wang. The principle, outlined in the "Regulations on Dissemination of Copyrighted Material over Information Networks" implemented in July 2006, requires online storage or search providers to sever links to infringing material upon notification from the rights holder, but does not make the providers legally liable. Wang said the principle does not apply because Baidu Wenku alters its search results by categorizing and organizing the documents uploaded to the platform.
Baidu spokesperson Yang Haijun declined to comment on the matter.
Recently, a group of authors formed the "Publishing World Anti-Baidu Infringement Coalition," and plans to appoint 3 or 4 authors to serve as representatives in negotiations with Baidu. The group originally planned to meet with Baidu around the Qingming (Tomb Sweeping) holiday on April 5, but could meet as early as this week.
On March 15, a group of 50 authors called for all authors to join in a class-action lawsuit against Baidu. In an open letter to Baidu they claimed that Baidu Wenku harms China's original cultural products by allowing users to freely download copyrighted publications. Shen Haobo, president of Chinese publishing firm Xiron, musician Gao Xiaosong and Baidu executives have agreed to meet to discuss the issue around the Qingming Festival holiday.