Google China embarks on free music downloading

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Google is venturing into the online music market in China through a joint venture with Top100.cn that will enable users to listen to and download licensed music files for free. Top100.cn, a recent entrant to the Chinese online music market, stores over one million music tracks from major music labels, including EMI, China Record and Sony BMG. The joint venture expects to generate revenue through online advertisements on the music search pages.

The move is aimed squarely at Baidu.com which, among other things, has built up its popularity in China by providing access to pirated music through its search service and is already being targeted for copyright violations by media giants Universal, Warner, and Sony. During last year’s fourth quarter, Baidu had a commanding 60.1 percent share of China’s search market. Google came second with a 25.9 percent share followed by Yahoo China in a distant third place with 9.6 percent.

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