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Chinese web firms sue search giant Baidu for video piracy

But MPAA NOT joining copyright violations claim

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Updated A group of Chinese web and film companies have banded together to take search giant Baidu to court over allegations of video piracy.

The group, which includes companies like Tencent Holdings, Sohu.com and Youku Tudou, call themselves the Joint Action Against Online Video Piracy in China. They are looking for 300 million yuan ($49.2m, £30.8m) in damages from Baidu and Shenzhen-based software company QVOD for copyright infringement.

They said that Baidu and other companies had been using an automated process to gather content owned by other firms, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and others have reported. Baidu also linked to sites that hosted pirated content, they claimed.

Baidu said that it uses an automatic filter to search out illegal content and has a team that works 24 hours a day to process any complaints. The Chinese search giant said it was committed to fighting online piracy. Software firm QVOD said that it was only a video player, and argued it wasn’t providing any content.

But the group said that efforts to negotiate with Baidu hadn’t been successful and claimed the company had said it wouldn’t agree to rules on violating copyright unless QVOD did the same.

"We can't continue to compete in the situation because law-abiding people can't survive in a place where robbers and thieves rampage," Charles Zhang, chief executive of Sohu.Com, told a news conference today. ®

Update

A previous version of this story said the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was also taking legal action against Baidu, alongside the Chinese companies. This is not the case. An MPAA Asia Pacific spokesman said: “The MPA understands that some of China’s leading online video providers, including Youku Tudou, Sohu, Tencent and LeTV.com, have filed law suits against Baidu. Urgent action is needed to prevent large scale online infringement of film and television content in China.”

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