There's no hushing in this library.
Chinese authors are banding together to voice their displeasures with Baidu's
Baidu Library offers free e-books based on user submissions. It's ideally a source for older works in the public domain or for current authors to promote their latest works, but it's also apparently becoming a hotbed for copyright infringement. Established authors who are seeing their works shared on the site without their consent are speaking out, voicing their concerns through Sina's
If this seems familiar, let's recast this tale for a Western release. Replace e-books with videos. Have Google's
This is starting to look a lot like the video-sharing case that led to Viacom suing YouTube for a whopping $1 billion. YouTube has initially prevailed in the case.
Different countries have different rules, naturally. Baidu has held up better in music piracy lawsuits than website operators elsewhere, but let's not assume that Baidu Library is going to win here. If only for global perspective's sake, China's leading search engine needs to clean up the calamity.
It can probably learn a lot from YouTube.
For now, Baidu Library allows authors and copyright holders to register complaints through its site. The infringing material is typically taken down in less than 48 hours. This is how archaic YouTube used to be in its early days, with studios bellyaching over the burden of takedown notices.
YouTube beefed up its content-recognition software after Viacom grew litigious. It's now better at flagging infringing eye candy. More importantly, it's now working with many content creators to monetize these clips. In other words, instead of just zapping unauthorized uploads, studios and record labels can now simply have YouTube automatically slap revenue-sharing ads or iTunes links so that they can profit from the innocent -- or not so innocent -- postings.
Baidu could learn a lot by going this route. At the very least it would turn angry authors into enriched cheerleaders. Baidu is the undisputed champ in Chinese search, but the last thing it wants to do is be at odds with popular authors who have a way with words.
Do you think Baidu is right or wrong in this case? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Baidu and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. Sina is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a fan of China's growth stocks for several years now, even though he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.