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Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has launched its free music search engine in China, in a sector which has seen its fair share of controversies. The users can search for songs by singer, song or album title on Google’s search page and then download licensed music files for free…this will only be accessible to users in China. Some details to this effect were leaked earlier in the year. Back then, Universal Music was on board, and EMI and Sony (NYSE: SNE) were in talks..but Google didn’t announce any label partners with today’s launch.
Google is working with Chinese music company called Top100.cn for this service, and will split the ad revenues three ways with music labels and Top100. Watermarking would be used to track downloads and for stats in selling ads. Interestingly, Top100 is backed by Chinese NBA star Yao Ming.
Other search sites like Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) have been sued successfully by the major music labels, for linking to illegal download sites in their search results. Unlike these sites, Google has tied up with music labels to prevent these issues. Of course Baidu has a 70 percent market share of China, compared to Google