China said Monday that it would impose fines of as much as 100,000 yuan on
distributors of illegally copied music, movies and other material over the
Internet, a move likely to put pressure on search engines like Baidu.com.
Internet service providers must give the authorities contact information for
owners of sites that distribute pirated material, the State Council, China's
cabinet, said in a statement dated May 18 and posted on its Web site Monday. The
maximum fine is the equivalent of $12,500.
Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, EMI Group and Universal
Music Group sued Baidu, the most-used search engine in China, last year for
allowing free downloads of their music.
The company, based in Beijing, offers a service allowing users to find MP3
files and may be forced to cooperate with the authorities in cracking down on
illegal music sites.
"Baidu will be under a lot of pressure to stop offering links to illegal MP3
files and may have to stop their MP3 search service," said Edward Yu, chief
executive of the research company Analysys International, based in Beijing. The
new rules could also cut the number of Baidu's users, he said.
Calls to a Baidu spokeswoman, Cynthia He, were not returned.
The government can fine individuals and companies selling equipment and
technology designed to allow illegal copying, according to the rules. It can
also confiscate equipment used for making and distributing pirated material.
Yu said that China had repeatedly promised to crack down on illegal copying.
"China's piracy problem is an enforcement problem," he said. "There have always
been piracy laws."
Wireless 'conspiracy' claim
The agency promoting a wireless encryption standard in China has accused a
U.S. engineers' group of participating in a conspiracy that led the
International Standards Organization to reject the Chinese system, The
Associated Press reported from Beijing.
The accusation was made in China's appeal against
the organization's decision in March to reject its encryption system, WAPI, in favor of
the widely used 802.11i encryption standard developed by the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Xinhua news agency
China has asked the International Standards Organization to nullify its
decision due to what it calls the engineer group's "unethical activities," such
as allegedly conspiring against WAPI, insulting China, and using intimidation
and threats, Xinhua reported, without elaborating.
"The serious violations are rare in ISO's standardization history," Xinhua
quoted a statement by the official China Broadband Wireless IP Standard Group as
It said the IEEE unfairly violated International Standards Organization rules
and misled national agencies, causing them to reject the Chinese standard,
ISO has said it will investigate the case, Xinhua reported.
Xinhua said after the ISO rejection in March that China's government would
"firmly support" the Chinese standard, and the decision would not affect its
decision on domestic use.