A Chinese court has found Tencent guilty of copyright infringement for its online music service and slapped it with a paltry fine of $2,407 (RMB 15,000), Beijing Daily reports.

The Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) has taken to its website to declare a victory, even if the win is largely symbolic. The agency, China’s official music copyright administrator, had accused Tencent of ignoring copyright for years on its QQ IM service and Soso search engine.

The inconsequential fine isn’t likely to deter Chinese Internet companies from cleaning up shop. Considering Tencent made $1.8 billion in revenue last quarter, $2,400 is less of a slap on the wrist and more of a gentle tickling.

The Chinese legal system still has a ways to go, but it has made large strides toward protecting intellectual property. International governments are starting to take notice and give credit. Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of eBay from ecommerce leader Alibaba, and search engine Sogou recently made it off the US Trade Representative’s “Notorious Markets List” this year. However, a quick search of Taobao by Tech in Asia last week found plenty of fake products still on the site.

Rival Baidu has been busy cleaning up its own music service as it moves away from its ignominious less-than-legal origins. In October, the company dropped the MP3 Search name in favor of its new Baidu Music branding. Last year, it reached a pivotal deal with major record labels that licensed their music for its service.

The online music service space has thinned a bit in recent months. Google turned off its local music service in September, a result of its gradual attrition after leaving the domestic search market in 2010, and Yahoo shut down its music search portal earlier this week.

(hat tip Marbridge Daily)

Image credit: Ryan McVay