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Google Intros Free Music Service…in China

Internet giant Google has launched a free, ad-supported music search and download service that enables users to search for music and download free, licensed copies of popular songs. Such a service could give services like iTunes, Amazon’s MP3 Store, and Rhapsody a run for their money…if only it were available in the United States. Instead, Google’s new service is only available in China, a market better known for music and media piracy than for booming digital media businesses.

Google’s new music search service will be competing with Baidu‘s own music search capabilities, which have recently drawn lawsuits from music publishers and rights holders saying that by providing searchable access to links that enable illegal downloading of songs, Baidu is facilitating copyright infringement. Google sidesteps the issue by providing access to fully-licensed tracks via the Chinese music Web site Top100.cn, co-founded by U.S. basketball star Yao Ming.

Google will earn money via advertising revenue on the service, which will be shared with Top100.cn and other music partners.

Unlike Google’s dominance of the search market in North America and many other world markets, Google accounts for only about a quarter of the Chinese search market, which is dominated by Baidu with a 63 percent share.

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