Google may take music downloads beyond China

Google launched the free song download service in China last year

Google is considering taking the free music download search it offers in China to other countries as well, though it has no specific plans yet, the company said Monday.

Google is trying to perfect the service in China first, but it has also started early work on how it might be applied elsewhere, said Daniel Alegre, Google's vice president of Asia-Pacific sales and operations.

Google first launched its music download search in China last year to compete with a similar service from Baidu, China's top search engine, that links extensively to unlicensed downloads of Chinese and foreign songs. Google offers licensed song downloads, which is supported by advertising revenue that it shares with the music labels and local partner Top100.cn.

This year Google expanded the number of songs licensed for the service to 1.1 million, including titles from the top four global record labels.

Alegre did not say what country the service might move to first or whether it would keep the ad revenue sharing model.

Music piracy is widespread in China on and off the Internet. Pirated CDs are sold on many street corners and almost any song can be found for free online.

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