Music firms accuse Yahoo China of copyright infringement

A group of major music companies are preparing to sue Yahoo China over complaints that the popular search engine violates copyrights by linking to Web sites that offer pirated music, the group's chairman, quoted in an Associated Press report, said.

"Yahoo China has been blatantly infringing our members' rights," John Kennedy of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) was quoted as saying. "We are taking the preliminary steps required by Chinese law for filing a lawsuit."

IFPI said Yahoo China linked to outside sites with unlicensed MP3 downloads of hundreds of songs, according to the report.

Yahoo China is operated by Alibaba.com, which is 40% owned by California-based Yahoo. It is the No. 2 Chinese search engine, after industry leader Baidu.com, according to the Shanghai market survey firm iResearch.

IFPI could file its lawsuit within a few weeks, said Kennedy, who was in Beijing for meetings with government officials. The group represented more than 1,400 recording companies in 73 countries, including major US, European and Asian labels.

A spokesman for Yahoo China, Porter Erisman, said the search engine was acting "within the law."

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