Yahoo! China faces music

IFPI cracks down on netco for piracy

BEIJING — The Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry is preparing a lawsuit in China against Yahoo China for copyright infringement as part of the music biz’s efforts to crack down on piracy.

“Yahoo China has been blatantly infringing our members’ rights. We have started the process and as far as we’re concerned, we’re on the track to litigation,” said IFPI chairman John Kennedy. “If negotiation can prevent that, so be it,” he added.

Org, which represents 1,400 companies in more than 70 countries, accused Yahoo China of “infringing IFPI member companies’ rights on a large scale” by providing links to Web sites that offer unlicensed music downloads, making available copyrighted songs for download from its service without permission from record companies.

Yahoo China is a partnership between Internet giant Yahoo, which owns 40%, and China’s Alibaba.com.

The IFPI said it wrote to Yahoo China in April asking it to stop the infringement of IFPI members’ rights, but had received no response.

China is now the second-largest legal music market in Asia, after Japan, with sales worth $212 million in 2004, but sales of pirated discs were almost twice that, at $400 million; more than 85% of the units sold in the market are pirate, IFPI estimates.

China’s top search engine, Baidu.com, was ordered by a Beijing judge last year to stop directing users to music download sites.

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