Yahoo China Loses Copyright Infringement Case

    December 20, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Yahoo China got smacked by a Beijing appeals court that ruled deep linking to pirated music violates China’s copyright laws, making the company a facilitator of copyright infringement.


Baidu missed similar prosecution only by a technicality, but the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is promising to bring the fight to them again.

Yahoo Inc. owns 44 percent of Yahoo China; the rest is owned by Alibaba. IFPI complained that Yahoo China "runs an operation enabling users to search for, play and download pirate music without ever leaving its website."

It is assumed by "pirate music" they don’t mean "Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum." IFPI includes among its membership EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG.

A guilty verdict was issued in April against Yahoo China, which was appealed. A Beijing court today dismissed that appeal. IFPI claims the recording industry collected just $76 million in music sales for the Chinese market, or just one percent of the global recorded music market.

Some interesting math from IFPI contends that 99 percent of music downloading in China infringes copyright, and Yahoo China is one of the chief facilitators. That number appears derived by equating one percent of the world market to one percent of the Chinese market, which seems suspect.

Nevertheless, IFPI is thrilled with the outcome. "The ruling against Yahoo China is extremely significant in clarifying copyright rules for internet music services in China," said IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy. “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."

Yahoo was found guilty under a law that went into effect in 2006. IFPI’s case against Baidu, which claims 195 counts of infringement, was brought to the courts under older copyright laws which did not find Baidu liable.

IFPI says Baidu’s infringement days are numbered, though. “We are disappointed that the court did not find Baidu liable," said Kennedy, "but that judgment was about Baidu’s actions in the past under an old law that is no longer in force. The judgment is irrelevant since it has effectively been superseded by the Yahoo China ruling. Baidu should now prepare to have its actions judged under the new law. We are confident a court would hold Baidu liable as it has Yahoo China."