THE CHINESE Communist Party's main newspaper has accused Google of keeping searchers away from its website after it reported on a copyright dispute.
The People's Daily had reported on a Chinese group's complaint that Google's planned online library of digitised books might violate Chinese authors' copyrights.
For three days Google searches for the report, in the books section of the website, warned users the site might contain harmful software. The paper argues that the Chinese search engine Baidu did not return a similar warning.
"We thought it might be related to our reporting on the conflict between Google Library and Chinese authors," The book section's manager Pan Jian said. He claims the paper was first alerted to the problem by readers.
An unidentified People's Daily official quoted on the paper's website said the section was "maliciously blocked by Google".
Google responded by saying that these accusations were "absolutely incorrect". Google spokeswoman Cui Jin told the Canadian Associated Press that the warning was generated by software that is "an automatic function without any human interference".
In the original copyright dispute, the China Written Works Copyright Society called on Google last week to negotiate compensation for Chinese authors. Google has reached a tentative agreement to compensate American authors and publishers. Google said it is encouraging rightsholders in all countries to register for the settlement.
In June, the Chinese government accused Google of allowing access to pornography. That followed an unexplained outage that temporarily blocked users in China from seeing the search engine or its Gmail service.
Google has less than 30 per cent of the search market in China, whereas local rival Baidu has more than 60 per cent market share in the Middle Kingdom. China has more than 338 million Internet users, more than the entire US population. µ