BEIJING (AFP) — A Beijing appeals court has found top Chinese search engine Baidu.com not guilty of property rights infringement for posting links to websites offering illegal music downloads, state media said Monday.
The ruling issued Sunday by the People's High Court of Beijing brings to an end a case brought by several major international music labels, including EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal Music, Xinhua news agency reported.
The music companies accused Baidu of facilitating illegal downloads without their permission and demanded an apology, suspension of the activity, and 1.67 million yuan (222,666 dollars) in compensation, it said.
The report offered no further details on the ruling.
However, a Beijing intermediate court ruled in November that Baidu's links to the music did not constitute infringement as the music was downloaded to the Web servers of third parties, Xinhua said at the time.
The rulings appeared to run counter to a decision by another Beijing court late last year, which ordered Baidu to pay a distributor of EMI 68,000 yuan (8,400 dollars) in compensation for providing such web links.
Baidu had argued that the MP3 search engine it provided was the same as other search engines providing links to web pages, news and pictures.
As Internet usage has soared in Asia in recent years, the music industry's revenue has fallen dramatically, largely due to MP3 downloads from unauthorized sources.
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