Baidu, Accused Globally of Aiding Piracy, Acts to Quash It in China

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office has listed China’s leading search engine Baidu as a key member on its list of global counterfeit-assisting services. Today Baidu reacted to some of these complaints by issuing anti-piracy tech for its e-book system.


The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office has listed China’s leading search engine Baidu as a key member on its list of global counterfeit-assisting services. Today Baidu’s reacted to some of these complaints, and issued anti-piracy tech for its e-book system.


Baidu said it will introduce pirate-defeating tech for its documents and books products in May, which will help counteract global accusations that the search engine is a host for rampant piracy. Criticism came not only from the U.S., but China itself (which actually fined Baidu, if only a small amount) and Japan–which blamed Baidu specifically for facilitating ebook piracy-facilitating. 

Baidu’s move in this direction is significant, as it owns about 70% of China’s search market and represents the online search connection for hundreds of millions of people. The anti-piracy tech, which hasn’t particularly been explained, took around four months of research and development to create, and it will be tested in April ahead of a full roll-out on the first of May. We do know that Baidu’s tech will “systematically eliminate copyright-infringing content already uploaded on its platform” and also “enable automatic rejection of future problematic uploads,” according to a spokesman who talked to Reuters.

In the future, Baidu will also move to suppress pirated music files, and it’s continuing talks with music labels and hopes to achieve a “breakthrough.” The moves, which will be welcomed globally if they’re effective, seem to indicate a fresh approach to piracy and counterfeiting in the upper echelons of China’s rapidly-growing tech industry.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in e-book news, e-book lending service Lendle is at the center of a controversy with Amazon. The company behind the Kindle ecosystem belied its happy logo this week when they disconnected their API access from Lendle because the e-book sharing system wasn’t serving the “principle purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.”

Amazon sent a letter to the site, then promptly barred it, seemingly ignorant of the notion of long-term PR gained from book sharing (which may encourage readers to buy still more books in the future) and blind to the fact that public libraries didn’t “kill” the paper book market. Maybe conscious that it was acting with double standards, as its own system now allows a limited form of ebook lending in response to consumer pressure, Amazon has since restored Lendle’s API hooks, although there are a number of restrictions in place. If Amazon was worried that sharing would encourage ebook piracy, it should note that, anecdotally at least, restricting affordable, legal access to content can actually increase book theft.

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