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Three Chinese companies are in hot legal water for providing access to infringed copyrighted material

Looks like Google/YouTube isn't the only online giant in trouble for yielding copyrighted material in its searches.   China's top search engine,  Baidu.com Inc, has been brought to court by three major record companies, Universal Music Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Ltd and Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd, for allegedly giving access to copyrighted music files.

The companies have asked for a court order to force Baidu.com to remove links to sites with infringing material, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, IFPI, the organization handling the company's complaints said in a released statement.  The IFPI is the parent organization of the RIAA, well know in the U.S. for its use of strong arm tactics to try to curb file sharing.

The IFPI announced that these claims against Baidu.com have been filed in a Bejing court.  The IFPI also announced that Universal Music Ltd, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Ltd, Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd as well as Gold Label Entertainment Ltd are also seeking legal action against the Chinese media giant Sohu.com Inc and its search engine Sogou.  The action against Sohu.com is separate to the Baidu.com complaint.

Yahoo China also is in trouble with IFPI.  The site, which is chiefly owned by Alibaba and only loosely affiliated with Yahoo in U.S., has nonetheless been a headache for its American namesake.  The U.S. government recently blasted the site for assisting in the jailing of a dissident.  Now the IFPI is seeking punishment against Yahoo China for refusing to comply with a December ruling by the Beijing Higher People's Court.  The ruling stated that Yahoo China violated Chinese law by committing mass copyright infringement.  The company has thusfar rejected the ruling.

Yahoo China, Baidu.com, and Sohu.com were all unavailable for comment.  Likewise, Chinese court officials declined to remark on the case. 

John Kennedy, the IFPI chief executive, complains about the lack of respect for copyright by Chinese companies, stating in a written statement, "The music industry in China wants partnership with the technology companies -- but you cannot build partnership on the basis of systemic theft of copyrighted music and that is why we have been forced to take further actions."

The IFPI alleges that 99 percent of all music download in China is pirated, which costs the music industry millions a year.

China has vowed to get tougher on piracy in the force of international criticism, yet the government has made it hard in recent years to get some materials by legal means.  China recently banned the import of U.S. DVDs, leaving citizens with the unfortunate choice between not watching or joining the record number of pirates.


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and why do we keep doing it?
By HighWing on 2/6/2008 6:55:31 PM , Rating: 4
ok now I understand that China has a massive workforce that pretty much can make anything and everything and the size has no equal, but seriously, if this were ANYOTHER country the USA and other countries would start taxing imports, refusing business deals, and all sorts of other things until some sort of compromise is met. Yet for some reason it seems like we have been doing quite the opposite and even bending over backwards for China..... So how is this supposed to "help" bring in a democracy like the USA wants or for that matter any kind of change at all in the government?




RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By InternetGeek on 2/6/2008 7:18:56 PM , Rating: 3
Get up with the times: Democracy stops where Economy starts. USA can't apply economic sanctions to China without causing a major economic meltdown in USA and the rest of the world. I think that China will change... but in its own volition and its own way. It will take years and, as it seems, it will do so keeping or increasing their independency and importance in the world. Which is fine by me because it will keep a lot of people fed and the rest of us with a good stream of dividends.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By odessit740 on 2/6/2008 9:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Get up with the times: Democracy stops where Economy starts.


Truth.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By Samus on 2/6/2008 10:48:54 PM , Rating: 1
(R)ed


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By qwertyz on 2/7/2008 6:40:33 PM , Rating: 1
Just wait for RIAA IFPI MPAA to get their hands on atomic bombs then you know the world is over.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By SandmanWN on 2/6/2008 10:24:38 PM , Rating: 5
You say it would be an economic disaster but I've always wondered if it would be the smart move.

http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700....
http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/hig...
US trade deficit ~760 Billion.
US imports from China ~300 Billion.
US exports to China ~58 Billion.

China has been promising the US year after year after year after year after year after year through our many economic conferences that it will help to lower the import restrictions into China to equalize the trade deficit. Little to nothing has been fulfilled on that promise. Every other country we deal with we have a deficit that is much much more manageable.

The good news:
Looking at the goods we import there is very little of vital importance to the US.
http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/pro...
The largest parts are:
Computers $17 B
Comp Accsy $29 B
Apparel/etc $21 B
Household/etc $62 B
Toys/etc $22 B
TV's/AV $14 B
All these can be manufactured here or purchased elsewhere.

I would think that the initial sting of dropping China would quickly be nullified by the 250 Billion (-300+50) we would erase from the deficit. You could then dump that money into manufacturing plants in the US and across the North American continent like Canada and Mexico. I imagine there also are a dozen countries in Africa that would love to get their hands on part of that 250 Billion and develop some massive manufacturing centers, help modernize and stabilize their countries, and send us loads of cheap crap to fill our homes with. And I'm also sure those people would have little problem importing our goods in return.

In the end I don't see why we continue to waste our time on a country like China that refuses to equalize trading when we have much more appealing countries across the globe that are better prospects. Its time to end this cycle of madness with China.

Anyone else feeling me on this?


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By BansheeX on 2/7/2008 5:24:39 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, you're placing the blame solely on China for our problems? You underestimate how dependent we've become on China. We used to have a surplus with them, but now they're more productive and capitalistic than we are, and they have 3 billion consumers just waiting to take the place of non-productive Americans when our economy finally falls apart. It isn't the duty of other countries to subsidize our borrow and spend economy, though they've been propping up our currency for a good many years now under the delusion that it's in their best interest to do so. It's going to take some time to tear down malls here and and replace them with factories again. Government overregulation, Keynsian economics, and total abandonment of an asset-backed currency has set the stage for financial ruin. Please don't any newbs post graphs of nominal stock increases against government-measured inflation to try and paint a rosier picture.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By joemoedee on 2/7/2008 6:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
It's very complicated, and I'm certain that I don't fully grasp the whole scope of the trade/economy between China and the US, nor will I ever claim to.

With that said, my view...

How I see it, for a long time the Chinese Yuan was pegged with the USD. It was consistently undervalued against the stronger USD. Due to this, the USD could buy a lot of Chinese product.

The cost of materials and labor was already low in China, and when combined with the high value of the USD it made a lot of "business sense" for many manufacturers to relocate their production to China, or to import from China.

Bottom line, it meant profit for the businesses that chose to utilize China.

However, I do believe we'll see some turnaround in this due to the relatively weak dollar. (I'd almost suspect that the dollar is so weak on purpose because of the trade imbalance, and to spur the return of some overseas business. However, I'll leave that to the conspiracy theorists)

After the peg was dropped, the value of the dollar plays very heavily into the current value of the Yuan. A weak dollar = stronger yuan = less profit and incentive to utilize China in the production of goods.

Time will tell what ultimately happens.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By borowki on 2/7/2008 1:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
The current situation is not that hard to understand if we treat money as just another tradable good. The US dollar is by far the currency of choice in global commerce. There's probably more of it circulating outside the country than in. The expansion of trade and rapid development of countries like China and India means ever greater demand for the dollar. In response, America, holding a monopoly over its production, produces and exports more of it. A large current account deficit in that sense is systematic. It's a reflection of greater prosperity in the developing world.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By BansheeX on 2/7/2008 2:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
That status is constantly dropping, or haven't you been watching the dollar's value compared to gold or other currencies dropping like a rock? Inflation is much higher than the fed is letting on with their manipulated measurements and individuals are waking up to the irrationality of buying bonds even if foreign governments aren't. Foreign central banks are going to stop loaning all this credit to non-productive Americans who can't pay it back after the real estate bubble, the dollar is going to lose international status, and all of those dollars in circulation and liquidity are going to come home to roost, causing hyperinflation.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By borowki on 2/7/2008 8:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
You're missing the point. American T-bills aren't just loans, they're useful instruments in of itself. China's banking system is weak. As they expand their economy they need US dollars to stabilize their own currency. There's nothing irrational about it.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By BansheeX on 2/8/2008 12:12:51 AM , Rating: 2
No, China's central bank is only weak in that they continue to assume that they need to "stabilize" their currency rather than let their currency rise against the dollar as the free market would dictate. Once again, they are not dependent on borrow-and-spend Americans as they have plenty of consumers to take our place. If the dollar collapses, their stock market would decline in nominal terms, and perhaps due to an irrational fixation on nominal values, but the actual purchasing power of their currency would increase because they would no longer be subsidizing our extravagant non-productive lifestyle. USA T-Bills are a terrible investment right now for anyone in the world. Exports are only useful to countries who produce and are able to pay off their debt.


By SandmanWN on 2/7/2008 9:44:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wow, you're placing the blame solely on China for our problems?

We've asked for a relief in import restrictions for 15 years and we've been spoon fed tiny improvements while we openly accept just about anything China sends our way.
quote:
We used to have a surplus with them

The first link I had in my post shows we haven't had a positive deficit with China since 1985. Thats 22 years and counting with a massively negative deficit. I don't remember, and I'm sure nobody else can recall, exactly when we had this supposed positive balance in trade you speak of.

The only people we have to blame is ourselves. And its time we pull ourselves out of the bottomless pit that China has become on our economy.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By defter on 2/7/2008 6:13:32 AM , Rating: 2
"US trade deficit ~760 Billion.
US imports from China ~300 Billion.
US exports to China ~58 Billion."

You should also think how many CPUs Intel/AMD will sell or how many OSes Microsoft can sell without Chinese made motherboards, video cards, monitors and other PC componenets.

No, transferring production of these parts to US or Europe is not feasibale. It would be very expensive and it would push prices of computer components very high limiting profits and revenues of several US based companies like Intel/AMD/Microsoft/NVidia etc.


By SandmanWN on 2/7/2008 12:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
There is not one economist in the world that thinks our current trade deficit is sustainable or won't eventually hurt both economies, not to mention the entire world. Something has to be done to create a balance.

And yes transferring parts to the US and elsewhere is completely possible. You assume it would go to the US or EU but in all likelihood it would end up in South Korea and Taiwan where the prices are already favorable.

Instead of fear mongering over the bad outcomes we should be looking for solutions.


By bighairycamel on 2/7/2008 7:29:37 AM , Rating: 2
We're (the US) between a rock and a hard place on this one. China holds hundreds of billions in national reserve, not to mention trillions in US debts. They've already threatened to release reserves crippling our dollar even more, and even the smallest hint at it makes stock indexes drop like crazy.

We are in a tough spot now, but for our own good we have to keep relations between the US and China positive.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By InternetGeek on 2/6/2008 11:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
It might be easier if people just reviewed their spending habits, wouldn't you agree?


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By rudy on 2/7/2008 1:29:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, also I am a fan of why does the government have to get involved. The US is one of if not the worlds largest consumer economies. If we don't buy from any country it can cause major economic pain. The people can simple choose that all on their own, start doing with out the junk and not buying goods from countries that do not have fair deals with the US on trade. In a few short weeks the US consumers could do far more then the government ever would to send a message to any country. All it needs is a leader or a mass message passed around telling people to stop buying from a particular country and things can happen. I believe at one time we had an anti french boycott that shook things up over there.


By tastyratz on 2/7/2008 8:38:14 AM , Rating: 2
sounds great on paper.

Find your copy of one of the emails you received telling you not to buy gas on 1 single day so we can really stick it to the oil companies. Retype said email and spam the rest of us in the USA into submission.

The promise that the people can change the country only matters if we get more than a handful to do a damn thing. To get anyone we need passion. When is the last time you mentioned our trade deficit and caused a soccer mom to drop her groceries and scream for justice? Even if the public knew or cared were too lazy to get off our (insert expletive) to do something about it.

It would make a good movie with Mel Gibson but in the end it would never happen.
I, like the rest of the Muppet US public, probably would never be swayed to sacrifice my flea market burned dvd's, fake Adidas's, killer cat food, or dog toys made with lead paint.

Its all up to our government and for that reason were screwed.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By kyp275 on 2/7/2008 5:01:32 AM , Rating: 2
I would agree, but in this case you'd be hard-pressed to find things that AREN'T made in China.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By InternetGeek on 2/7/2008 5:02:42 PM , Rating: 2
There was as article from NY Times about a woman who tried this for 2 years. She said there were times she'd be hard pressed to even be able to tell if a product was made in China or not. A consumer group (or even just a website) doing something like this would be quite helpful. And I think that if instead of regulating the market the Goverment would take a role in this type of things it might actually work a lot better and cheaper for all of us.

In one hand, it'd be good for the world to have more than one economic engine. China, Europe, X, Y Z the choice doesn't matter. More than one economic engine will keep us all going in case of a meltdown and it could actually help the other one get on track. In the other, some choices might not be just as good.

Just a few thoughts


By SandmanWN on 2/7/2008 7:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
A simple google search for "Made in the USA" should give you enough websites and lists to keep you busy for quite some time. ;)
www.madeinusa.org is obviously a good starting point.

I think however there are a great deal of people who simply don't have a clue about the current economic situation or those who simply do not care. The rich and careless, the poor and unknowing, and the penny pincher's. For those people unfortunately, nothing less than government intervention seems to be the answer.

But yes, I fully agree, it is about time to spread things around a bit.


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By defter on 2/7/2008 6:09:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
until some sort of compromise is met


What kind of compromise you are talking about? The whole lawsuit against a search engine is ridicilous. Yes, you can find mp3s using a search engine, so what? That's the whole point of search engine, to find information from the web. Why should Baidu censor its search reasults on behalf of US copyright mafia?


RE: and why do we keep doing it?
By AlphaVirus on 2/7/2008 10:38:59 AM , Rating: 2
It was the same case as when Youtube was same and became big, every video you could imagine was on it. People started putting movies on it and music videos on it. Once the site actually became big it was slammed with lawsuits of copyright infringment. The corporations did not go down to each user and sue them, they sued YouTube for allowing and 'supporting' it.
Once Google took over the Youtubes it has been very hard pressed against any illegal videos (bootlegged, copywritten, vulgar, or just plain illegal).

Honestly I hope they win this case because with the statement of "99% of all downloaded music is stolen", that is hurting our economy indirectly. Well everything is hurting but fixing it 1 lawsuit at a time and we will be better eventually.


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