Recording Giants Crack Down on China's MP3 Sites
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Several of the world's biggest recording companies jointly initiated legal action against two mainland-based Web sites distributing MP3 music files over the Internet.
Sony Music, EMI, Warner Music, Universal Music International and China Records Guangzhou have lodged a pair of lawsuits in Beijing and Guangzhou against providers MyWeb and Tekson.
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the lawsuits are the first of their kind in the mainland.
The legal action is expected to test the mainland's copyright law, which currently does not provide any legal protection to music disseminated over the Internet.
In addition to Western pop stars, music by popular Chinese singers like Jacky Cheung, Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai, and Andy Lau were reportedly available.
San Francisco-based MyWeb manufactures set-top boxes and operates a mainland Internet portal that offers online banking, stock trading and distance-learning courses.
The recording industry has become very concerned about Internet piracy in a relatively short period, due to the advent of the MP3 format and the proliferation of players.
Damages claimed by the record company have yet to be specified. Although the music files can be freely downloaded, advertising income from the sites may be scrutinized as a benchmark for determining possible damages, if any.