International publishers will see their intellectual property protected better in China, thanks to a milestone agreement between China's biggest internet search engine Baidu Inc and the International Publishers Copyright Coalition.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed on Wednesday, the two organizations will cooperate in tackling online IP infringement.
For example, they will help IP rights holders find out if their rights are being infringed, and if so, will take down the infringed content from the Baidu search engine.
Beijing-based Baidu said in a statement that it will set up a platform dedicated to processing tipoffs about both Chinese-language and English-language IP infringement and create a healthy internet environment.
"Baidu has been actively working to solve the challenges in protecting copyrights online via teaming up with partners around the globe," said the company in a statement. The search engine giant had been accused in the past of allowing unauthorized digital content of books and music on its sites.
The move was welcomed by international publishers looking to generate significant revenue in China by exporting their digital content.
The United Kingdom's publishing industry, for example, has a third of its total revenue coming from digital sales and 40 percent from exports, including a significant portion from China.
"We hope that we will progress our work with Baidu even further over the coming years to look at ways of delisting websites containing infringing content and filtering out pirated material," said Emma House, director of publisher relations at the UK Publishers Association, which is a sponsor of the IPCC.
"For publishers, it's extremely important and valuable that the three major online platforms in China－Baidu, Alibaba (Group Holding Ltd) and Tencent (Holdings Ltd)－take copyright protection seriously. The IPCC already has an MOU with Alibaba and now the MOU with Baidu represents progress in the internet platforms partnering with rights holders to tackle the problem of copyright infringement together."
Matthias Wahls, managing director of M. Wahls Publishing Consultancy, said the agreement is very encouraging for publishers and authors.
"Digital content is increasingly easy to experience copyright infringement issues, which means the role that a search engine like Baidu can play to protect IP is increasingly significant," said Wahls.