Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Alibaba, Yahoo in negotiations with record firms

BLOOMBERG Corp (阿里巴巴), which operates Yahoo Inc's China site, said the two companies were in talks with record companies to offer music legally over the Internet after an industry group said that it may sue for copyright infringement.

"We hope they can accept us as a platform where they can put their copyrighted music for consumers to enjoy," Jin Jianhang (金建杭), an Alibaba vice president, said at a press conference in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Jin said the companies were in talks with the "biggest international" companies, without identifying them.

Yahoo China, the nation's second-largest search engine, provides links on its Web site to illegally copied music on non-affiliated sites.

An agreement to offer legal music would help Alibaba avoid a lawsuit by the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry on infringement charges.

"We are in talks and we would prefer to come to an amicable arrangement instead of litigation," said Leong May-seey, Asia regional director for the federation, in a telephone interview from Hong Kong.

The phonographic federation -- which represents companies including EMI Group Plc -- plans to sue the companies within "a few weeks," chairman John Kennedy said on July 3.

About 90 percent of all recordings in China are illegal, with sales of pirated music worth about US$400 million annually, according to the group.

Alibaba, based in the eastern city of Hangzhou, wants to retain music services to compete against Inc (百度), owner of China's most-used Internet search engine. Seven record labels last year filed a civil suit against Baidu for copyright infringement.

The record companies failed to reach agreement in a June 30 meeting with Baidu, with Kennedy calling a settlement offered by the Chinese company "unacceptable."

The federation has started the process of taking action against Yahoo China and is "on a track to litigation," Kennedy said in a July 3 interview.

"If negotiation can prevent that, then so be it," he said.

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