Google is set to challenge China’s largest search provider Baidu by offering free legal music.
The success of Baidu has long been credited to the search engine providing music search from its front page, but much to the lack of amusement of record companies, the music found by Baidu is nearly all pirated. Baidu fronted a Chinese Court in December, and won the day with a ruling that Baidu did not infringe copyright by merely linking to infringing music.
According to a WSJ.com report, Google’s new free music service in China is in the late planning stages and involves a joint venture with an undisclosed company. The service will offer access to music from three of the four big global music companies, as well as other smaller players, with a launch date possibly later this month.
The move into music provision would be a first for Google, and although this deal is directly in response to Baidu, there is always the possibility that with one territory in place, complete with joint venture partner and music deals, that Google could roll this out into other countries in the future. Yahoo was rumored to be considering a similar service in January, although has since closed its music service in favor of RealNetwork’s Rhapsody service. There are also a number of small players offering ad supported music as well. Either way, it’s yet another vertical where the smaller players/ startups will sleep less well at the thought that Google may enter their space in the future.
Update: Google JV partner is believed to be Top100.cn.