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Google launches free music service in China

By Reuters

Posted on 6 Aug 2008 at 08:28

Google has launched a free music download service in China intended to earn advertising revenue for artists in a country plagued with piracy.

The service poses a challenge to Baidu.com, which dominates China's internet search market but has, along with other Chinese search providers, faced lawsuits charging that it facilitates copyright violations through downloads of unlicensed music.

Google says its service will initially let internet users search tens of thousands of Chinese songs by singer or song title on its website and download them from Top100.cn, a Chinese music website co-founded by basketball star Yao Ming.

Advertising revenue from the service will be shared among Top100.cn and its music partners.

"The internet industry should by no means stand in the opposite camp against the music industry," says Google China president Kai-fu Lee. "Google always believes profoundly that mutual interest, rather than monopoly, is the key to sustainable growth."

Downloads of unlicensed music and videos are rampant in China, the world's biggest internet market by number of users.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has estimated that more than 99% of all music files distributed in China are pirated.

While Google dominates much of the global web search market, in China Baidu holds a nearly 63% market share while Google has just over a quarter, according to second-quarter data from iResearch.

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