Rogue Site Goes Good

For the past few months I have used this space to highlight a variety of rogue websites engaged in intellectual property theft across numerous sectors of the U.S. economy.  Today I want to tell the story about a site that has made a dramatic step in the right direction.  Given recent history, this news may have caught many by surprise. Last week, Baidu, China’s No. 1 search engine, announced a major licensing deal with several major music labels. We congratulate all the companies involved in the successful conclusion of these negotiations.

In February the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative named Baidu as one of the world’s notorious markets for IP theft, specifically noting its practice of “deep linking” to infringing content, and a few months later, the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus (IAPC) again highlighted Baidu as one of the world’s most notorious infringers.  This agreement represents a significant triumph for US demands for greater corporate accountability, and underlines the importance of demanding that companies cease using unlicensed American content to drive their businesses.

Criminals who operate these markets are stealing the best of American creativity and innovation. These parasites feed on the time, effort, talent, and hard work of millions of Americans who rely on the protection of IP for their livelihood. The illegal activities of rogue websites impede America’s job creation, endanger consumers’ health and safety, and stifle our economic recovery.

We are hopeful that the news of Baidu’s cooperation with rightsholders will have a positive, cascading effect on other notorious rogue sites operating outside of U.S. jurisdiction. While Baidu’s agreement is a truly positive sign, it’s only a small step in fighting the global scourge of rogue sites—in China and elsewhere. We need enhanced enforcement tools and legislative measures to cut foreign rogue sites off from the U.S. marketplace–or we’ll continue to watch the jobs in our creative and innovative sectors disappear.

As IAPC co-founder Congressman Schiff noted in a press statement after the deal was announced, “I applaud the deal and hope it is the first of many more steps by Baidu and other Chinese companies to respect international copyright norms. I also hope it sends a powerful message to other foreign websites identified in the 2011 Anti Piracy Caucus Watchlist, such as the Russian website vKontakte, that it’s time to become good corporate citizens.”

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