Beijing-based Web portal Baidu has once again been accused of copyright violation -- this time by authors' group the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) and digital music distributor R2G.

"Baidu has camouflaged its illegal activities under the guise of search-engine activities while it infringes music copyrights in order to avoid legal regulations," MCSC and Beijing-based R2G said in a statement released Feb. 27. Like many Chinese search engines, Baidu offers "deep links" to Web sites providing unauthorized music downloads.

The MCSC has filed a lawsuit against Baidu accusing it of infringing copyright on more than 50 songs, and is seeking unspecified compensation and cessation of all such alleged copyright infringement. R2G, meanwhile, has sent a legal notice to Baidu requesting the de-linking of unlicensed content and says that it will also initiate its own lawsuit.

The MCSC and R2G also say they are asking advertisers and ad agencies "to take appropriate measures to refrain from allocating the revenue that feeds copyright infringement on Baidu."

On Feb. 4 the IFPI filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Baidu, Web portal Sohu and associated company Sogou on behalf of its member labels.

"With Baidu's music search and download service accounting for over 70% of the music-search market based on official CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) surveys, legal music revenues on the Internet in China are dropping at an alarming rate," the MCSC and R2G said. The statement quoted MCSC director-general Qu Jing Ming as saying that the MCSC's publishing revenue in 2007 was one-tenth that of 2005.

"Due to Baidu's existence, legal music providers' revenues are suffering and some may even be forced to closed down," the statement said.

Baidu could not be reached for comment at press time.

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