Baidu.com, China’s search engine Goliath, has combined forces with three major American record companies to develop what is hoped to be a breakthrough against music piracy in the People’s Republic.
Already our one stop shop when looking to download free music, Baidu has joined forces with Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony Music, to err, give away free music.
Over 500,000 songs have been offered to Baidu by the aforementioned record companies in an attempt to persuade netizens that downloading free licensed material is much more worthwhile then downloading non- licensed versions of the same songs.
Their medium for mass conversion? Baidu’s new side project, Ting.Baidu.com
The catch? Record companies are using free song catalogs in order to bait users into paying for premium features. “such as being able to share playlists and store songs in the cloud so they can be accessed through any computer or mobile device “
In addition, Baidu is set to pay copyright owners each time a song is streamed or downloaded from its service.
OneStop (Sony, Universal and Warner’s joint company to handle deals in China) director Lachie Rutherford had this to say about the venture:
“We’ve managed to forge a commercial partnership with Baidu that respects the value of copyright….We are working together on a really attractive music service and have agreed ways to counteract infringement, giving the service the best chance of success….We’re delighted it offers streaming and downloads at launch and will progress to providing a premium, paid-for version.”
Andrew Chan, chief representative of OneStop agreed and stated:
“The good thing is that Baidu ultimately decided they wanted to do a legal music service. That’s a biggest achievement…. But the culture of music being free has been around for a long time….More education is needed….It has to be step by step.”
This is obviously another move towards legitimizing the Chinese internet giant, especially in light of their recent copyright infringements elsewhere. The move also follows closely their partnership with Bing to provide English language search results.
And maybe this is just Baidu’s attempt to get hip with the kids, as it has no current weibo or social networking platform and its rumored plans to partner with Facebook seem to have fizzled.
We remember when Google.cn (R.I.P.) also signed deals to legally give away music in China. At that time, it seemed ridiculous to compete on legal avenues against piracy giant Baidu, who we thought would never mend its ways. My how the times have changed.
By Patrick Keefe