Publishers team up with Baidu to fight IP infringement

Updated: 2016-04-29 18:05

By Cecily Liu in London and Meng Jing in Beijing(

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International publishers will now see their intellectual property protected better in China, thanks to a milestone agreement between China's biggest internet search engine Baidu Inc and the International Publishers Copyright Coalition.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed on Wednesday, the two organizations will collaborate in tackling online IP infringement.

For example, they will help IP rights holders find out if their rights are being infringed, and if so, will take down the infringed content from the Baidu search engine.

The Beijing-based Baidu said in a statement that it will set up a platform dedicated to processing tip-offs on both Chinese-language and English-language IP infringement and create a healthy internet environment.

"Baidu has been actively working to solve the challenges in protecting copyrights online via teaming up with partners around the globe," said the company in a statement. The search engine giant had been accused in the past of allowing unauthorized digital content of books and music on its sites.

The move was welcomed by international publishers looking to generate significant revenue in China by exporting their digital content.

The UK's publishing industry, for example, has a third of its total revenue coming from digital sales and 40 percent from exports, including a significant portion from China.

"We hope that we will progress our work with Baidu even further over the coming years to look at ways of delisting websites containing infringing content and filtering out pirated material," said Emma House, director of publisher relations at the UK Publishers Association, which is a sponsor of the IPCC.

"For publishers, it's extremely important and valuable that the 3 major online platforms in China, Baidu, Alibaba (Group Holding Ltd) and Tencent (Holdings Ltd) take copyright protection seriously. The IPCC already has an MOU with Alibaba and now the MOU with Baidu represents progress in the internet platforms partnering with rights holders to tackle the problem of copyright infringement together."

Matthias Wahls, managing director of M. Wahls Publishing Consultancy, said the agreement is very encouraging for publishers and authors.

"Nowadays digital content is increasingly easy to experience copyright infringement issues, which means the role that a search engine like Baidu can play to protect IP is increasingly significant," said Wahls.

Adrian Fisher, a counsel at the London-based law firm Linklaters, said the agreement demonstrates an evolution business practice in China. "It also reflects the 13th five-year plan (2016-20), which identifies the need to advance the rule of law," said Fisher.

"It's encouraging that copyright infringement is being taken seriously by such a major search engine. In the TMT sector, copyright infringement can seriously undermine the incentive to innovate, so this is an encouraging development in a competitive industry," Fisher said.

The signing of the agreement was a highlight of the annual UK-China Copyright Week, which consists of a series of events in China, attended by a UK delegation led by Ros Lynch, director of copyright and enforcement at the UK Intellectual Property Office.

"In China, IP law has undergone a rapid process of reform and we continue to see the Chinese government implement changes which improve its IP regime. The consumer marketplace is becoming increasingly digital, which creates a new range of IP challenges. We particularly support collaborations between industry to improve online IP protections such as this MOU between Baidu and the IPCC," said Lynch.

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