U. S. Record Companies vs. Baidu, Redux

After losing their lawsuit last fall in the People's High Court of Beijing, Warner Music Group, Vivendi SA and Sony Corp have turned to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry to file a suit in their behalf against two popular Chinese search engines, seeking record damages of US$9 million from Baidu and US$7.5 million from Sohu.com, according to China Daily. The suit, filed in February, was accepted this month by the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

According to China Daily:

The lawsuits against Baidu and Sohu may make Chinese Internet companies liable for more damages. Compensation in the cases was calculated on the basis of $71,000 in damages per track, the record-industry federation says in an e-mailed statement. The $9 million being sought from Baidu is based on copyright violations for 127 songs, while the IFPI says the Web site offers links to more than 250,000 pirated tracks.

Should the suit be found in the record companies' favor, search engines' liability for links to pirated music would grow astronomically: the requested damages exceed the U. S. dollar-denominated value of the largest work-injury compensation to date, RMB 60 million shared among 148 plaintiffs.

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