Baidu, China's top search engine, is nearing the public launch of a legal music-streaming and download service.
Dubbed Ting, the service will allow people to find tracks they may want to hear and to stream them over the Web. Many of the songs will also be available for download at no charge, according to the Ting Web site (Google Translate version) and media reports. Listeners will be able to pause tracks and skip ones they don't like. The service will also include the ability for people to "find like-minded friends," according to the Ting site.
Ting is perhaps Baidu's most significant effort yet to erase concerns over the company's history with pirated music. For years, Baidu has offered music search, allowing people to seek out and download MP3 tracks across the Web. When the offering first launched, many people illegally downloaded pirated copies of songs. Baidu's MP3 service now offers many more licensed tracks.
In 2008, Baidu was sued by China's Music Copyright Society for allegedly providing "music listening, broadcasting and downloading services in various forms on its Web site without approval, and through unfettered piracy, earning huge advertising revenue on its huge number of hits."
Not long after that suit was filed, Google entered the music-search market in China by partnering with Chinese site Top100.cn. The U.S. search giant funneled people to Top100, which then allowed them to download free tracks. That offering was completely legitimate.
Ting is currently in closed beta. According to PC World, the service will become publicly available in the coming weeks.
Baidu did not immediately respond to CNET's request for more information.