Baidu plans to launch a service offering free legal music downloads this month, a step set to raise hopes among music labels that China is starting to crack down further on copyright infringements.
China’s largest online search engine has started testing Baidu Ting, the new service, among a limited number of users before opening it to all later this month, the company said.
The move comes amid a crackdown on violations of intellectual property rights which the government started last October and which has led to the shutdown of many websites that offer pirated music and films via streaming and downloads.
The US government, in its annual report on intellectual property rights protection worldwide, kept China on its special watchlist but expressed cautious optimism over the country’s recent measures. Beijing’s special campaign against piracy might lead to “lasting improvements” in IPR protection, the report said. Last month, the US Trade Representative had included Baidu on a list of “notorious markets” for pirated goods.
美国政府在其发布的全球知识产权保护年度报告里，将中国保留在特别观察名单中，但对中国最近采取的措施表达了审慎的乐观。该报告称，北京打击盗版的专项整治运动，或许能导致知识产权保护方面的“持续改善”。上个月，美国贸易代表(US Trade Representative)曾把百度列入盗版产品的“恶名市场”(notorious market)名单。
Many foreign rights holders continue to doubt Beijing’s resolve in the long term. But they see the move by Baidu, which holds a virtual stranglehold over China’s online search market since Google partly retreated last year, as an encouraging sign.
“When Baidu starts to move it means that things might really be changing,” said a foreign entertainment industry executive who declined to be named.
Baidu continues to operate Baidu MP3, a site that helps internet users find, stream and download unlicensed music for free. The company refused to comment on when Ting would completely replace that service, but executives have said they are planning to gradually change the model.
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