WSJ: Chinese Firms Face The Music On Downloads
April 7, 2008 at 5:26 AM (PT)
A CHINESE court has agreed to consider copyright-infringement cases against two CHINA-based Internet heavyweights that offer illicit music downloading, potentially opening CHINESE companies to hefty damage claims they have previously dodged, reports THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
The music-industry lawsuits claim $9 million in damages against BAIDU.COM INC., and $7.5 million against SOGOU, the music-delivery service operated by SOHU.COM INC. While the dollar amounts are small because they are based on claims of infringement for just a few hundred songs, this is the highest amount the music industry has sued for in CHINA.
If the BEIJING First Intermediate People's Court ultimately awards the requested damages, these cases might set a precedent for further, far larger claims. These could run into the billions of dollars, based on the total number of tracks that are illegally available online in CHINA.
CHINESE Internet-industry insiders argue that the future of digital music in CHINA will be free MP3s, whether the labels like it or not. The handful of privately held Internet upstarts that have tried to sell licensed music for one yuan per song are barely surviving.
GOOGLE, which has no music service in CHINA, is in planning stages with a product that would give users free, high-quality music downloads provided by music labels and a local Internet partner, supported by advertising.