China’s largest search engine, Baidu, will soon allow its 470 million users to legally download and stream music at the cost of an undisclosed fee. The fee will be paid by the search engine to Sony, Universal and Warner Music.
The deal will come after a 6 year battle between the 3 major labels and Baidu, accusing them of deep linking customers to third party sites that host pirated music. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimates that at present 99% of online music in China is pirated. These levels have made it hard for labels and film companies to make a sustainable market in the country.
Under a two year deal, 500,000 songs, 10% made up of Manadarin or Cantonese tracks and the rest including popular artists from Lady Gaga to Frank Sinatra, will be stored on Baidu’s server and made available to stream or download. It’s unknown how much royalties will be taken by the labels, but it includes a portion of advertising revenue as well.
Both Twitter and Google have been hounded by labels in the past for serving up links to illegal tracks. Google have always argued that the act of linking should not constitute a crime. Both companies comply with DMCA take down requests for illegal download links.