Baidu Faces Fines Over Lyrics Infringement

Former Chinese Piracy Search Hub Prepares Music-Related Projects
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Chinese search giant Baidu has largely avoided penalties for song-related infringement, despite accusations of some nefarious deep-linking.

The typical – and usually successful – defense is that Baidu is merely a search engine, and not a host of infringing materials.  But that argument fell through in a recent, lyrics-related case involving MCSC (Music Copyright Society of China), according to details emerging early Tuesday morning from China.

The complaint involved 50 songs, and according to one Beijing-based source, the case focused on lyrics displayed alongside MP3 deeplinks within Baidu MP3.  The Beijing People’s Court for the Haidian District issued a modest fine of 50,000 yuan (5,371 euros, $7,324) plus 10,000 yuan (1,074 euros, $1,465) for litigation expenses.

The fine amount is mostly unimportant, though the local verdict offers hope for label groups like the IFPI, long frustrated by the search behemoth.  But this case goes beyond linking, and the presence of only local companies probably affected the outcome.  Furthermore, Baidu promised to appeal, and in the meantime, could alter its results presentation.