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Han Han wins cash in Baidu copyright suit

By Deng Jingyin Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-18 0:00:07

Haidian district court has partially ruled for the plaintiff, famed blogger and race car driver Han Han, in a lawsuit he filed against Chinese search engine Baidu for copyright violations.

Best-selling author Han accused Baidu of illegally publishing his works online and offering them for free downloads in its Wenku literary database. He asked for the database to be shut down, and for 760,000 yuan ($120,635) in compensation and also requested Baidu to post an apology on its home page for seven days.

In its ruling, the court rejected most of the lawsuit, although it did order some compensation to be paid. 

"The court ordered Baidu to pay 40,000 yuan compensation to Han Han," said the media officer from Haidian district court Monday.

Since no legal basis was provided to close Baidu Wenku and make an apology, the court could not uphold these requests, the officer said.

Han, a member of the Copyright Protection Alliance, entrusted the alliance to file a lawsuit against Baidu's violation with another 13 writers.

The court dismissed seven suits Monday, but ordered Baidu to pay a total of 145,000 yuan in compensation to seven plaintiffs, including Han.

Wang Guohua, Han's lawyer, said they have not yet decided whether to appeal.

"The court has admitted Baidu's copyright violation since it ordered Baidu to pay compensation, so we have achieved our goal. We don't think the request to shut down Wenku is the most important thing," he said.

He pointed out that if the alliance decides to make an appeal, the results will not change a lot.

Baidu's defense lawyer said at the July 10 trial that Wenku is only for Web users to store data, so it is not responsible for uploading copyrighted materials, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

A media officer from Baidu, surnamed Li, said they had no comment on the verdict Monday.

In March 2011, over 40 writers, including Han, published a letter accusing Baidu of providing their works for free without permission.

Liu Wenjie, an expert on copyright law with the Communication University of China, said it would take time to encourage everyone to support original copy in China.

"The ideal is to charge fees for downloads, so both [writers and service providers] should make a deal before resorting to the court," Liu said.

Chen Ya'nan contributed to this story

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing