Taobao, Sogou off US piracy blacklist

Two Chinese sites are taken off Office of the United States Trade Representative "2012 Notorious Markets List" for their efforts in working with rights holders.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Chinese e-commerce site Taobao and search engine Sogou are taken off the United State's "Notorious Markets List" for 2012 due to their work with rightholders to decrease infringing materials on their sites.

In a statement Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said: "Taobao has been removed from the 2012 List because it has undertaken notable efforts over the past year to work with rightholders directly or through their industry associations to clean up its site."

"Similarly, Chinese website Sogou has been removed from the 2012 List based on reports that it has also made notable efforts to work with rights holders to address the availability of infringing content on its site," Kirk said.

Kirk added that the Philippines's Quiapo Shopping District was removed from the list as well due to the government's "significant enforcement actions" which reduced the number of counterfeit and pirated goods available for sale at the marketplace.

However, two Web services in China were listed in the 2012 Notorious Markets List. Peer-to-peer (P2P) service, Xunlei, was included for facilitating the download and distribution of pirated music and movies. Search engine Gougou was said to be "actively" providing users with deeplinks to infringing music files and torrent links from unauthorized sources.

Vietnam-based social media site Zing.vn was blacklisted as well for including infringing deeplinking music portals, although the report noted that the parent company, VNG, is in talks with rights holders to turn the site into an authorized digital music platform.

Kirk said: "Piracy and counterfeiting, including online sales of pirated and counterfeit goods, is a problem that hurts the U.S. economy, harms some of this nation’s most creative and innovative entrepreneurs and companies and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle-class American workers."

"We highlight the notorious markets that have a negative impact on legitimate businesses and industries of all sizes that rely on intellectual property to protect their goods and services," he said.

Last year, USTR removed Baidu from the notorious markets list as it had negotiated with music licence holders to offer legitimate music on its social music platform.

[UPDATE Dec 14 11:40pm] In a statement, John Spelich, vice president of international corporate affairs at Alibaba Group, said: "We would like to thank the USTR for the acknowledgment of our efforts. The intellectual property rights issue is a long march in China, this is a milestone and it is only the beginning."

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