China's largest search engine Baidu has announced that it will begin paying Music Copyright Society of China, an agency that takes care of songwriters, for music downloaded from the site. The decision comes after years of complaints from the record industry saying that the Chinese search engine has been providing direct download links to MP3s from the darker corners of the Internet.
The two companies will work together in the hope of protecting digital music. Baidu will take note of the songs downloaded from its site, give data of what has been downloaded to Music Copyright Society of China, and pay copyright holders appropriately. Major record labels likely still won't be pleased given that they are being excluded from the deal; the money will be sent directly to songwriters. Baidu also plans to eventually add a licensed content page on its music search site.
Baidu has only recently started fixing up its reputation. The Music Copyright Society of China has been trying for years to push it to protect copyright holders, even taking legal action against the company. Late last year, however, the two began working an agreement to protect copyright holders.
Last month, the search engine was still being criticized by the US Trade Representative for being useful to pirates. It's surprising, but it appears the message has finally hit home and Baidu wants to change, if only at least a little.