woman walks past a Yahoo billboard in a Beijing subway in this March 17,
2006 file photo. [AP]|
A court has ordered
Yahoo Inc.'s China subsidiary to pay $27,000 for aiding music piracy, the
company and a music industry group said Tuesday.
The ruling came amid US pressure for Beijing to stop rampant copying of music
and other goods.
The lawsuit filed by the International Federation of Phonographic Industries
accused Yahoo China of violating copyrights because its search engine linked to
sites that carried 229 pirated songs. It was filed on behalf of 11 recording companies including Sony BMG, Warner
Music, EMI and Universal Vivendi.
"We're very pleased with the outcome," said Leong May Seey, Asia regional
director for the federation. "We think it is a step in the right direction in
creating a legitimate online music service in China."
The ruling Monday by the No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ordered Yahoo
China to pay 210,000 yuan ($27,000) in
damages , the official Xinhua News Agency said. Court employees
declined to confirm the report or release any other information.
Leong said she did not know the exact damages awarded but said they appeared
to be well below the 5.5 million yuan ($700,000) sought.
"We are considering our options with the damages, whether we will appeal or
not," Leong said.
Yahoo China said it would appeal and stressed its respect for intellectual property rights .
"We will appeal this decision because we believe Yahoo China's music search
service both meets and exceeds the relevant legal standards for intellectual
property protection," a company statement said. "An important principle is at
stake in this case - search engine operators should not be held liable for
content posted on third-party Web sites."
Yahoo China is operated by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo's local partner,
Alibaba.com, China's biggest online
commerce site .
The IFPI filed a similar lawsuit last year against China's most popular
search engine, Baidu.com Inc. A court ruled in Baidu's favor in November. The
IFPI is appealing.
Leong said the IFPI has filed administrative complaints with the Chinese
government against other music-linking services and might pursue more lawsuits.
"We will be taking further action in other cases," she said.
Beijing has increased penalties for product pirates and launched repeated
crackdowns. But illegally copied music, software, designer handbags and other
goods are widely available.