Dozens of popular Chinese writers have accused search engine giant Baidu of infringing their copyright and branded it a “thief” in the latest claims of piracy against the company. More than 40 writers, including controversial blogger Han Han, have signed a letter claiming Baidu provided their works for free to download on its online library Baidu Wenku without their permission.
“Baidu has become a totally corrupt thief company,” the authors said in the letter posted Tuesday on the website of government-linked China Written Works Copyright Society. “It stole our works, our rights, our property and has turned Baidu Wenku into a marketplace of stolen goods,” it said. Baidu Wenku was launched in 2009 and allows users to read, share or download files and books, or their excerpts, for free. Readers can also purchase books from the online library — at a much lower cost than the cover price.
All documents are uploaded by Internet users and as of November Baidu Wenku had stockpiled more than 10 million files and books, accounting for 70 percent of China’s online file sharing market, according to the company’s figures. Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said the search engine “attaches great importance to intellectual property rights protection” and had deleted “tens of thousands of infringing items” uploaded by web users.