Music Companies Sue Yahoo China

The conflict between traditional record companies and Internet music providers continues with lawsuit alleging illegal downloading

Eleven music companies jointly filed a lawsuit against Yahoo China, owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, over its alleged involvement in illegal downloading and playing copyrighted music.

Led by industry group International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), companies, including EMI, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music and Universal Music, are suing Yahoo China for about 5.5 million yuan ($711,000) in damages.

"We expect to eventually win," John Kennedy, IFPI chairman, told Financial Times on Tuesday. "We believe they are involved in infringing our members' rights on a major scale." A spokesman for Alibaba told China Daily yesterday that Yahoo China only provides Web links in its music search results and should not be held responsible for contents of third-party Web sites.

In November, another Chinese search engine,, won a similar lawsuit launched by IFPI. But IFPI has said it is confident its case against Yahoo! China is strong and that it's unwilling to wait until the result of its appeal against the Baidu ruling.

"I think the Baidu ruling will act as a negative precedent if IFPI fails to raise stronger evidence in its new lawsuit," said Yu Guofu, chief lawyer of Sam Partners Law Firm, who contented that such cases are still controversial in China. Liu Bin, an analyst from BDA China, estimated that conflicts between traditional record companies and Internet companies will continue in China in the next couple of years, resulting in similar lawsuits.

© 2007 China Daily

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