In what would be a seemingly odd match, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is in negotiations to buy part of bankrupt music search startup SeeqPod. SeeqPod CEO Kasian Franks confirmed the talks to Wired.com Monday.
SeeqPod’s search service, which sifted through the web for playable content, like music, was immensely popular — but also possibly illegal. Several major record labels, including Warner and EMI, have sued SeeqPod over copyright infringement. SeeqPod countered that its service was legal because it did not host content on its servers. But the litigation nevertheless forced the company to declare bankruptcy and shut down its site last month. SeeqPod.com now features a prominent link on its home page to Microsoft’s Live Search. A Microsoft spokeswoman wouldn’t comment, and SeeqPod’s Franks didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.
Microsoft likely is not interested in reopening SeeqPod.com. Rather it wants SeeqPod’s technology, which Franks tells Wired could be as useful to find video or images as copyrighted music files. Initially developed for its use in science, it searches by association, rather than keyword. Microsoft is investing heavily to beef up its Live Search engine. Still, it’s hard not to imagine that SeeqPod’s legal travails could be an obstacle to any deal. Then again, Microsoft certainly has the deep pocketbooks to settle the litigation.