Internet Web portal NetEase Inc., one of China 's three largest U.S.-listed Internet companies, had stopped its music search service because of concerns about copyright piracy, the company said.
"This move is out of concern and respect for copyrights," the Beijing-based company said in an e-mailed statement, quoting co-founder William Ding. The company did not offer music downloads itself and only helped users to find sites that offered free downloads, Shanghai-based spokesman Jerry Lin said.
"We're in support of legal MP3 downloads," Lin said in reference to the technology that allows people to download music from the Internet.
There were more than 7,000 music sites in China , and almost all of them offered free music downloads without having obtained legal rights from music publishers, said Jun Wu, president of Beijing-based R2G.net, a firm that helps recording companies track down online music pirates in China .
R2G has led an effort by music publishers to track down online pirates. The company is in the process of negotiating a deal with Netease that will offer mobile phone downloads of music from record companies or their agents.
R2G already had signed similar mobile phone download contracts with Chinese Web portal operators Sina Corp. and Sohu.com Inc., Wu said.
So far, Netease was the first of China 's major portals to stop its music search service, Wu said. "I hope everyone will stop pirated MP3 download services," he said. " China 's laws are becoming complete and the government will start enforcing online piracy laws soon. It's better for the portals to stop such search services as soon as possible." Related Stories