Chinese search giant Baidu said it has successfully removed 2.8 million files from its document-sharing website, Baidu Wenku, after getting slammed by Chinese authors who accused the company of encouraging copyright infringement and demanded compensation.
The controversy prompted at least dozens of writers to publish criticisms of Baidu CEO Robin Li, a billionaire and one of China's most prominent entrepreneurs, over the past week. The criticisms included a satirical mock-interview titled 'F--- You Too, Robin Li' （in Chinese, English translation from ESWN here） that portrays Mr. Li as a corrupt executive who describes rights as 'something to be violated,' and a blog post by famous Chinese novelist and blogger Han Han （in Chinese, English translation from Han Han Digest here） suggesting Mr. Li had built his considerable wealth on the back of others' work.
The company responded by apologizing to writers and promising to remove infringing content by Tuesday, and saying it would shut down Wenku, known as Baidu Libary in English, if problems persisted. Company spokesman Kaiser Kuo said that Baidu removed most of the files suspected of being unlicensed -- largely found in its 'literary works' category -- as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, and is in the process of arranging a new discussion with representatives from the publishing industry. He said he couldn't guarantee that 100% of the pirated content on Baidu Library is gone, but 'I very much hope that they [the authors] see this was a good faith effort on our part and that it will form the foundation for future talks.'
Baidu's response to the attacks from these writers is very different from the response it has given to international music industry representatives, who have also accused the company of copyright infringement. Baidu publishes top-song charts on its popular Mp3 search service that include links directing users to unlicensed sources for song downloads. Because it doesn't host the unlicensed Mp3s itself, Baidu has said it bears not responsibility for copyright infringement on songs that appear in its music search service.
In contrast, files uploaded by users to Baidu Library are hosted on the company's servers, which may explain why the company has adopted a different attitude in dealing with authors' complaints. The attacks on Baidu over its document sharing website also originate from the domestic literary community, whose rights the Chinese government arguably has a stronger interest in protecting. It probably didn't hurt the writers' cause, either, that many of the criticisms that circulated widely among influential Chinese writers and Internet users were directed personally at Mr. Li.
Even so, the dispute over Baidu Libary isn't over yet. It remains to be seen whether authors and publishers will continue to insist on being compensated for previous downloads of their work, and whether the company will be able to keep pirated content off of its website.
Hao Qun, the author of 'Leave Me Alone, Chengdu' who goes by the pen name Murong Xuecun, has been a part of Baidu's discussions with publishing industry representatives and said many unlicensed copies of his works had been deleted from the website since Monday. But 'there are still some of my works there,' he said, adding that other writers have reported unauthorized copies of their work are still appearing on the site as well.
'The infringement issue remains big,' Mr. Hao said. He plans to wait a month to see if Baidu meets his demands before deciding on the next course of action. The demands are for Baidu to immediately remove all infringing content, check all content for infringement before allowing documents to be published, issue an official apology and compensate writers 2.5 yuan per download for previous downloads of unlicensed copies of their books.
2011-04-01 11:28 编辑：icetonado