China's Gougou.com 'pirate search engine' shuts down

Screen grab of Gougou message on site The site was recently added to a US blacklist

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Gougou.com, one of China's most notorious pirate content search engines, has been shut down.

It follows the site being added to a US blacklist.

The site was run by Chinese web firm Xunlei, which had previously planned to float on one of the US stock exchanges.

The share sale was abandoned last year due to piracy concerns. Some experts think the closure could be part of fresh flotation attempt.

A few weeks ago the search engine was added to the US Trade Representative's report on major copyright offenders.

In its report the USTR commented: "This Chinese-based site facilitates the downloading and distribution of pirated music and movies, not only through deep-linking services, but also by offering cyberlocker facilities and through its own innovative high-speed P2P [peer-to-peer] file-sharing system".

Visitors to the site are now greeted with a bilingual note which reads in English: "Gougou.com has been closed down. Thank you all for your support, and we are sorry for any inconvenience.

The Tech in Asia blog had described the service as "China's most notorious search engine".

It noted that sites using similar names were still in operation.

It marks the latest Chinese business to address intellectual property concerns after appearing on the US blacklist.

E-commerce marketplace Taobao has worked with rights holders to ban some counterfeit goods from sale and has promised to further simplify its complaint procedures.

The US said the Sogou search engine had also been dropped from this year's list after making "notable efforts to work with rights holders" to tackle the appearance of pirated files in its results.

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