Yahoo! China Sued for Alleged Copyright Breach

Music industry giants including Warner Music Group are suing Yahoo! China for alleged copyright infringement by providing links to unlicensed music, trade organization IFPI said on Wednesday.

Beijing's no. 2 Intermediate Court has accepted the case, which was filed in early January by 11 companies and seeks damages of 5.5 million yuan ($710,686), said Leong May Seey, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's (IFPI) Hong Kong-based regional director for Asia.

In November, Chinese Internet search leader was cleared of helping users to download music illegally in a case brought by some of the world's largest music companies.

"Yahoo! China respects intellectual property rights and supports the fight against music piracy," Yahoo! China spokesman Porter Erisman said in an e-mailed statement. "The courts have clearly established the precedent that search engine operators are not liable for content posted on third-party Web sites," he added.

The IFPI, which aims to combat piracy and promote copyright laws, represents the world's music companies and estimates that about 85 percent of all music consumed in China is pirated.

The music industry is fighting piracy by targeting file-trading and supporting legal alternatives such as Apple's iTunes.

Alibaba absorbed Yahoo's China business in 2005 and Yahoo bought a 40% stake in Alibaba.