Chinese writers win copyright battle against search engine Baidu

Baidu will pay damages for failing to guard against illegal distribution of copyrighted works, but writers say the amount is too low

A Chinese court awarded damages to three well-known authors in their copyright battle against search engine giant Baidu Inc., ruling that the company failed to prevent the writers’ works from being illegally posted on its document sharing site.

But it wasn’t quite a storybook ending for the victorious scribes. The trio, which included blogger Han Han and novelist Hao Qun, won just 145,000 yuan ($22,900) in damages, significantly less than the 760,000 yuan ($120,280) they originally sought. The court also denied the authors’ request to shutter Baidu’s document sharing site.

The Writers’ Union, a group Han Han founded to fight the online distribution of copyrighted works, said in a blog post that the low damages amount—which was less than the royalties the authors would have earned off the books—will likely do little to stem the tide of online copyright infringement.

“This clearly demonstrates a problem,” the organization wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Currently Internet copyright infringement laws and judicial interpretations are not close to preventing the use of the Internet to spread copyrighted material illegally.”

But Baidu says that it has taken steps to guard against illegal distribution of copyrighted works, including eliminating more than two million files and implementing a system to verify the legality of posted materials.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of copyright battles, see:

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5 new Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions expand user rights

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Alanna Byrne

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