China’s Baidu search engine has long been considered a scourge of the music industry for openly indexing and deep linking all mp3s it can find on the internet and listing them for easy download. There are plenty of other legally grey area mp3 search engines around, but Baidu is the biggest search engine in China and the 66th biggest website in the world according to Alexa, and as such has the legal clout to ward off legal threats from outside the Chinese jurisdiction.
However, with its listing on the NASDAQ and increasingly international profile, along with legal music offerings in the works from Google and others, Baidu understood that the life and usefulness of their MP3 Search may be coming to a close. With that in mind they have created Baidu Ting (百度听), with ‘Ting’ meaning listen, due for release later this month, and a few screenshots have leaked out from the current closed beta.
Ting will be a legal service after Baidu’s long negotiations with the Copyright Society of China and some major labels on a royalty payment system, allowing users to stream all songs and download a number of them for free, offering users a way to create their music libraries in the cloud, possibly a more centralised service of something like Ex.fm. Some are also reporting that whilst songwriters will receive monetary compensation, record labels will not as a way to keep costs down, although such information would seem to contradict their negotiations with record labels – we’ll see as the beta opens up to the public in a few weeks and the currently limited library of music expands.
[via Penn Olson]