Portal shuts MP3 search over copyright fears

Chinese leader jumps before it's pushed?

Chinese leader jumps before it's pushed?

One of China's biggest internet portals has shut down its MP3 search facility over fears it may be held responsible for copyright violations incurred by file-sharers offering music via the portal.

The NetEase portal took the decision to shut down the service earlier this week saying it wants to discourage users from download illegal music, according to reports.

NetEase is also concerned that it could be held indirectly responsible for copyright violations - although the portal doesn't sell music downloads, users have been using its search facility to locate and access illegal music files.

With most music available online in China now illegal, NetEase considers it has contributed to violations of intellectual property "to a certain degree", according to the Financial Times.

The MP3 search facility will remain offline until NetEase has found a way to offer content without infringing on the rights of those in the music industry, the paper added.

China is among the countries with the highest rates of music piracy - now standing at some 85 per cent and worth $411m annually, according to music industry body the IFPI.

NetEase could not be reached for comment.