Sohu.com told to pay rival, apologise
Mainland internet portal Sohu .com was yesterday ordered to pay 210,000 yuan to rival Sina.com and apologise for copyright infringement.
The No2 Beijing Intermediate Court found Sohu.com guilty of stealing about 380 downloadable pictures and screen savers for mobile phones from Sina.com. The court has also ordered Sohu.com to publish an apology on its main web page for 24 hours, within 10 days.
The lawsuit is one of a number involving the two companies, covering everything from defamation and unfair competition to piracy. The suit, which was brought by Sina.com in January last year, had accused Sohu.com of pirating 553 mobile pictures, as well as financial and sports reports originally published by Sina.com. Sina.com had demanded 300,000 yuan in compensation.
Sohu.com responded to the accusation by suing Sina.com for defamation.
'Nobody can claim copyrights on mobile pictures since there is no clear definition of internet intellectual property,' Zhang Chaoyang, Sohu.com chief executive, was widely reported as saying.
By last night, Sohu.com had not posted the apology, nor was the website carrying news of the verdict. In comparison, Sina.com is carrying many reports on the case collected from national print media.
Sina.com and Sohu.com are vicious competitors in the mainland's lucrative internet market. When Sina.com drew 20 million visitors a day to read material written by sex diarist Mu Zimei, Sohu attacked her with scathing criticism. Sohu.com also said web portals should maintain content standards.
Cases involving digital evidence have long been up for debate because no printed pictures or words can be provided. Legal experts say the verdict sets a precedent.