The United States on Monday again put China's top search engine, Baidu Inc, on its annual list of notorious markets for counterfeit and pirated goods, fueling U.S. business community hopes for action in Congress against rogue websites.
The U.S. Trade Representative's office said Baidu was the most prominent example of online services that use deep linking to steer buyers to allegedly infringing materials, often stored on third-party hosting sites.
Deep links take web users to a specific point within a website without first going to the website's home page.
Baidu was recently ranked as the No. 1 most-visited site in China, and among the top 10 in the world, USTR said.
USTR released its annual list of notorious Internet and physical markets two months earlier than usual. It said it would now publish the list separately, instead of in a larger annual report on global intellectual property theft at the end of April.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Congress needed to pass legislation giving U.S. courts new authority to block foreign websites that sell pirated or counterfeit goods from operating in the United States.
Criminals who operate these markets are stealing the best of American creativity and innovation, Steven Tepp, senior director for Internet counterfeiting and piracy at the business group, said in a statement.
USTR took aim at a number of other Chinese marketplaces, both on and off the web.
Industry reports that personal computer malls throughout China, such as Hailong PC Mall in Beijing and Yangpu Yigao Digital Square in Shanghai, sell computers with illegal operating system software and other unlawfully pre-installed software, USTR said.
It chided Russia for similar physical markets and websites that offer pirated music.
While the Russia-based allofmp3 (formerly the world's largest server-based pirate music website) was shut down in 2007, nearly identical sites have taken its place, USTR said.
There are also notorious physical markets for counterfeit and pirated goods in Ecuador, Paraguay, Indonesia, Argentina, Hong Kong, India, Ukraine, Philippines, Thailand, Mexico, Pakistan and Colombia, USTR said.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Philip Barbara)