Yahoo China plans to appeal a ruling that found it guilty of abetting music piracy, the company said Tuesday.
"We will appeal this decision because we believe Yahoo China's music search service both meets and exceeds the relevant legal standards for intellectual property protection," said Alibaba.com Corp., which operates Yahoo China, in a statement by e-mail.
The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court found that Yahoo China's search engine had provided over 200 links to sites offering unauthorized music downloads. The court fined the company 210,000 Chinese yuan (US$27,202) in damages.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) filed the suit in March on behalf of 11 major record labels, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. The IFPI had been seeking total damages of 5.5 million Chinese yuan in damages.
Yahoo China disagreed with the premise of the ruling. "This is a case that has far-reaching implications for all search engines. An important principle is at stake in this case -- search engine operators should not be held liable for content posted on third party Web sites," the company said.
The IFPI hailed the ruling."The Beijing Court has confirmed that Yahoo China has clear responsibility for removing all links to the infringing tracks on its service. Since this is a judgment made under new regulations in China, today's judgment supersedes the previous decision on Baidu and confirms the responsibility of all similar music search providers in China," said John Kennedy, the IFPI's chairman and chief executive, in a written statement.
In November last year, the IFPI lost a similar case against Baidu.com Inc., which was cleared of encouraging illegal downloads by providing links to online MP3 files.
Alibaba.com has operated Yahoo China since August 2005, when it received Yahoo Inc.'s China unit as part of a US$1 billion investment from the U.S. Internet company, in exchange for a 40 percent stake.
The IFPI represents the interests of its 1,400 music industry member companies in more than 70 countries worldwide, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.