Chinese search giant Baidu has removed 2.8 million books from its Baidu Wenku (Library) document sharing service after authors complained of copyright infringement.
Chinese search provider Baidu has cracked down on pirated
material in response to author complaints about copyright infringement
move comes as Western countries continue to press China to clamp down
on Websites that distribute music, movies and intellectual property.
Operating China's largest search engine, Baidu removed 2.8
million items for its online library after authors complained it was
distributing their work without permission, according to the Associated Press
The offending items were on Baidu Wenku - a document-sharing service.
Baidu executives plan to discuss possible arrangements with
the authors on how to distribute their works and share revenues. The company
has been in ongoing negotiations with authors, according to the March 30
"We really hope our actions will go far to assuage them and
will form a foundation for us to have fruitful talks about ways to cooperate,"
Kaiser Kuo, a Baidu spokesperson, told AP.
If Baidu is unable to resolve the dispute, the document-sharing service would
be shut down
, the company's CEO Robin Li announced at an Internet
conference on March 28. Baidu Wenku was launched in 2009 and allowed users to
read, share or download texts for free.
Publishers have long complained Baidu facilitates the
distribution of unlicensed material by linking to pirate sites that carry
unauthorized copies. A group of more than 40 prominent Chinese authors posted
an online petition on March 15 accusing Baidu for having "deteriorated into a
burglar company that stole our property and stole our rights," according to the
The 2.8 million items were on Baidu Library's "literary
works" section, but about 1,000 others remain. Kuo said the remaining items are
properly licensed. Kuo claimed it took "three solid days working
'round-the-clock" to remove the illegal files.
In the petition, authors demanded Baidu immediately remove
all infringing content, check all content for infringement before allowing
documents to be published, issue an official apology and compensate writers 2.5
yuan per download for previous downloads of unlicensed copies of their books.
Baidu will also launch a new system in May to screen
material being linked to the Baidu Library and prevent copyrighted works from
being uploaded. Right now, all uploads to the "literary works" section is
"being carefully vetted," Kuo said.
It remains to be seen whether Baidu will be able to keep
illegal copies off Wenku, and whether the company will compensate publishers
and authors for previous downloads. Users who upload the files are responsible
for compensation in any copyright issues, according to a disclaimer posted on
is a big problem in China, with music and books being
distributed freely. In its Feb. 28 report, the United States Trade
Representative's office identified 33 Websites and public markets in China,
Russia, India and other countries on its list of "Notorious Markets
" linked to
piracy and counterfeiting. Baidu was on the list, as was B2B portal Taobao, TV
Ants service for watching sporting events for free online, and smartphone app
Baidu publishes top-song charts on its popular MP3 search
service that include links to unlicensed sources of music files. The search
company has denied accusations of copyright infringement from the international
music industry, claiming that as the search engine doesn't actually host the
MP3 files, it can't be held responsible.
Users directly upload files on to Baidu Library, which made
the document sharing service different from the MP3 search service.
"We appealed Baidu to curb and correct their infringing
activities. If they did so, we welcome it," said Yang Chengzhi, Communist Party
secretary of the China Writers' Association.
Baidu commands more than 75 percent of China's search
market, with Google in second place with a mere 20 percent. Baidu recently
launched a series of new services to increase its offerings and extend its brand.