Baidu removed but Taobao stays in US "notorious markets" list

Baidu cleared from list after signing licensing agreements with U.S. record companies

A U.S. government office has removed China's largest search engine Baidu from its latest list of the world's "notorious markets", which identifies major offenders for supporting or selling pirated and counterfeit goods.

Chinese e-commerce sites under Alibaba Group, however, figured in the list.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released the list on Tuesday, stating that Baidu was one of several previous offenders that took action to stop the illegal spread of pirated and counterfeit products. Earlier this year, the company entered into agreements to start paying U.S. record companies and copyright holders to legally distribute their music.

Although Baidu has maintained it has been in compliance with the relevant Chinese laws, it had previously been criticized for hosting download links to pirated songs via its search engine. After the agreements with the record companies were made, Baidu has been removing download links to unlicensed songs from its MP3 search service.

"We are pleased that the significance of the deal with the major record labels has been recognized," Baidu said.

Alibaba's Taobao Marketplace and Taobao Mall, two of China's largest online retailers, however, continue in the USTR list. The Taobao sites still sell pirated and counterfeit goods, even as the companies have made "significant efforts" to address the problem, according to the report. The USTR had also named Taobao as a notorious market in its previous report issued in February.

In response, Alibaba Group spokesman John Spelich said in an email that the Taobao companies, "stand firmly in favor of protecting customers and sellers, as well as the (intellectual property) rights of brand owners, and providing a positive shopping environment."

He also noted that well-known brands such as Levis, Uniqlo and Proctor & Gamble have partnered with Taobao companies in the past few years. "Businesses of all sizes see the benefit of reaching the broadest number of customers with genuine products and services while at the same time understanding our commitment to fight counterfeiting," he said.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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