A year ago, when Baidu was all the rage leading up to its IPO, a few people noted that its real competitive advantage seemed to be that it let people download unauthorized music
. In fact, it seemed like a worthwhile question to wonder if going public would force the company to block those links, leading it to lose its competitive advantage
. Indeed, the company was eventually sued
. However, rather than stopping such unauthorized music finding via search, it seems to have only encouraged other companies to follow suit. Yahoo, who seems to have no problem following China's national standard in censoring speech
and handing over user info, has apparently done the same with music downloads and their Chinese search engine. Apparently the recording industry noticed... The IFPI has announced that it intends to sue Yahoo in China
should the company not agree to remove the links to music. It's still not entirely clear if Yahoo is actually being accused of hosting the content -- or just for linking to it (which certainly should make a huge difference in the potential liability). However, it does seem unlikely that suing Yahoo will do very much to stop such unauthorized music downloads in China.
writes in to point out that UK courts have given the recording industry there permission to sue Allofmp3.com
in the UK. Of course, that seems particularly pointless. It's difficult to see how a UK court can claim jurisdiction over a Russian site (in fact, it seems similar to the equally pointless attempt by France to have Yahoo's American site charged with war crimes
a few years back. Even if the lawsuit in the UK is successful, what good will it do, other than to get more folks in the UK knowledgeable about a site that sells cheap MP3s? It certainly isn't going to help get the site shut down. In both of these cases, the sites have (whether legally or not) shown the industry paths to new business models that wouldn't treat their biggest fans as criminals. Yet, instead of learning to change, the industry just sues -- even when such suits are only bound to backfire. Neither suit will do anything to stop unauthorized downloading -- but both should help promote how these sites are being used.