Chinese Legalese Spells Mixed Results for Labels

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Major label trade group IFPI received mixed rulings from Chinese courts this week.

The cases involved Yahoo China and Baidu, both search heavyweights that offer deeplinks to unauthorized MP3s.

Earlier this year, the IFPI successfully won a ruling against Yahoo China, and this week, the group prevailed against a Yahoo appeal.  The original penalty of 200,000 yuan ($27,142, €18,918), awarded in April by the Beijing Second Intermediate Court, was reaffirmed by an appeals court.  The IFPI initially sought damages of 5.5 million yuan, though Yahoo China escaped with a small fraction of that proposed penalty.  Yahoo China is wholly-owned by the Alibaba Group, of which Yahoo owns a 44-percent stake.

The upheld decision references a copyright law updated in 2006.  That left Baidu – often referred to as the “Google of China” – in the clear.  The IFPI initially sued Baidu in 2005, before the law rewrite.  In light of that history, Chinese courts rejected an IFPI appeal against Baidu this week.  Undeterred, the IFPI promised to retry Baidu under current statutes.  “Baidu should now prepare to have its actions judged under the new law,” the group said in a statement.

Story by news analyst Alexandra Osorio