Baidu tries to cast off links to piracy

08:50, December 28, 2010      

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Baidu Inc, operator of the nation's most popular Internet search engine, has begun official cooperation with book publishers by charging for its e-book services, a first step in its fight against piracy, analysts said Monday.

Readers will be able to purchase electronic books from the Baidu e-book store, a section of the Baidu Library launched late last year. E-books will reportedly cost around 10 percent of the same book in print form.

In total, nine categories of books are being offered including lifestyle and technology, while some categories like literature remain empty on the site.

The search engine launched its online store quietly over the weekend without any fanfare, presumably due to the sensitive IPR issues involved.

Previously users could download e-books and documents via Baidu Library for free with the use of virtual money earned through submitting or sharing documents or books online.

The library, which was launched last November, stocked nine million documents as of October.

But the company's free documents sharing model was not without problems and eventually incurred copyright infringement lawsuits.

Shanda Literature Ltd formed an alliance with copyright owners including China Written Works Copyright Society. The group filed a lawsuit against Baidu Inc over copyright infringement December 9. Some of Shanda Literature's most popular novels can be downloaded from Baidu Library for free due to peer-to-peer sharing functions.

Shanda Literature is the digital publishing unit of Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd, one of China's leading interactive entertainment media companies. It has over three million copyrighted works in its database.

Some domestic publishing houses and writers, like the country's "King of Fairy Tales" Zheng Yuanjie, have lent their support to Shanda Literature Ltd over the dispute.

"This is important for Baidu library to promote copyrighted books and avoid piracy," said Hai Lei, manager of the user product marketing department with Baidu, told the Global Times Monday.

"We are negotiating with dozens of publishers and publishing houses that can pro-mote their books via our e-book store," Hai said.

Sharing income for e-book sales and inset advertisements with publishers is their cooperation model, according to Hai.

"And we also have a 'green channel,' through which everybody could raise their voices over works that were infringed upon," Hai said, but confessed that the remedy still "could not stop all privacy."

One Internet analyst said Baidu's move was necessary to improve its public image, though it will take a long time to completely eradicate e-book piracy.

"Building healthy cooperation with publishers and letting them trust in it are the first steps for Baidu," Sun Peilin, an analyst with Beijing-based iResearch Consulting Group, told the Global Times Monday.

Source: Global Times
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