Baidu to launch licenced music service in May

By Melanie Lee

SHANGHAI, April 6 (Reuters) – Baidu Inc , China’s
top search engine, will launch a licenced music search service
in May, in a move to legitimise its current music search that
critics say enables music piracy.

Baidu will launch Baidu Ting sometime in May, said Kaiser
Kuo, a Baidu spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday. The service
will allow users to stream, download, create libraries of
licenced music and will have a social-networking aspect.

Music piracy in China has cost record labels hundreds of
millions in profits. Most of the music available through Baidu’s
current Mp3 search service is copyright infringing.

“Our members want to partner with and invest in China’s
digital revolution, but they cannot do so while the music
service run by the dominant Internet company, Baidu, facilitates
infringement of the rights of artists and creators online,” said
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a body
representing record companies globally, in a letter to the
Financial Times last month.

Baidu is the dominant search provider in China with more
than 70 percent of the market by revenue.

Last week, Baidu said it reached an agreement with the Music
Copyright Society of China (MCSC) to pay fees to MCSC for every
song downloaded using Baidu Ting. The licenced music service
will be supported by advertising.

The agreement covers publishing rights and Baidu will
compensates lyricists and composers through MCSC. The firm is
still working towards a more comprehensive agreement that will
cover performance rights as well.

Baidu is also in talks with major international record
companies such as Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music
Group and Warner Music Group for a similar agreement.

Baidu already has an agreement with EMI Group through the
current agreement with MCSC, Kuo said.

“We hope for an outcome in the near future,” Kuo said.

Baidu has been involved in court skirmishes with
international record labels over its Mp3 search service that
allows users to search for and download copyright infringing
music.

In January last year, a Beijing court cleared Baidu of
copyright suits and said the search engine did not break any
laws.

Earlier in the year, the United States Trade Representative
office spotlighted Baidu as a notorious market for piracy.

Baidu also recently removed hundreds of thousands of
infringing material from its Baidu Library product after a group
of Chinese authors accused the search engine of not respecting
copyright laws.

Google Inc launched a legitimate music search
service in China in 2008 but after a quarrel with Beijing last
year over censorship and hacking, Google moved its music search
to its Hong Kong website.

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Baidu to launch licenced music service in May