The four largest record companies have sued Baidu.com Inc. for copyright infringement, alleging the Chinese Internet search engine has been illegally providing links to free digital music downloads, a

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The four largest record companies have sued Baidu.com Inc. for copyright infringement, alleging the Chinese Internet search engine has been illegally providing links to free digital music downloads, according to a trade group the represents the music industry.

Universal Music Group, EMI Group Plc. and Warner Music Group Corp. filed their suits in July in Beijing to stop Baidu from providing those links, a spokesman for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said. Sony BMG Music Entertainment filed its suit earlier this month.

The Baidu case is believed to be different from the MGM Studios vs. Grokster case since the search engine is providing links to sites that offer illegal downloads.

Baidu, known as the Chinese Google, lost nearly a third of its market value the week of Sept. 12 after two of the investment banks that managed the company's initial public offering said the stock price was overblown.