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A music industry group in China said it sued Baidu.com earlier this year for the search engine's alleged violation of copyright involving more than 50 songs.

Music Copyright Society of China released a statement last Friday in which group official Qu Jingming said Baidu had provided "music listening, broadcasting and downloading services in various forms on its website without approval, and through unfettered piracy, earning huge advertising revenue on its huge number of hits".

According to the Press Association, the society filed a copyright lawsuit in a Beijing court in January in which it claimed damages and alleged that Baidu had used 50 songs illegally.

The group also claimed that legitimate online music providers were forced to shut down their services because of the alleged piracy.

Baidu, which is China's biggest search engine firm, has already been under the spotlight in recent weeks.

In February, the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) said a number of music bigwigs, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment Ltd, Universal Music Ltd and Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd, had sued Baidu for copyright infringement.

The music giants had asked the court to order Baidu to remove all links to thousands of websites that provide pirated copies of songs that are owned by the major record labels. ®

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