EMI Music has denied that it has signed on with Beijing-based search engine Baidu’s ad-funded music streaming service that previews new releases.

Baidu, which claims a 70% market share in China, announced that it had partnered with EMI for its "New Song Debut" channel, along with dozens of other labels including Emperor Entertainment Group and Rock Records.

However, EMI played down its association with Baidu and said it is not on board for this new service.

EMI said it currently provides a "limited quantity of local EMI Cantonese recordings” for streaming at Baidu. It is understood the licence, signed in Jan. 2007, expires in Jan. 2009.

EMI Music's licensee, Typhoon, has signed up with Baidu on the New Song Debut channel. Hong Kong-based Typhoon bought out EMI's stake for their joint venture companies, including the record company Typhoon Music, in August.

The New Song Debut service focuses on new music by local artists and does not feature international acts. EMI does not have any new releases in the region, with EMI Music Hong Kong only issuing catalog of local repertoire.

Baidu has been embroiled in legal battles with the majors over its music search engine, which provides "deep links" to songs posted on unauthorized services.

Universal Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment Hong Kong and Warner Music Hong Kong are seeking damages totalling $9.3 million for infringing copyright on 127 tracks, the maximum statutory compensation under Chinese law of 500,000 yuan ($72,963) per track. The legal action, which goes through IFPI's Beijing representative office, was filed in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court in February.

EMI and Typhoon teamed up with Baidu in January 2007 on the ad-funded EMI Music Zone streaming service after dropping out of the combined IFPI legal action. A Beijing court ruled in Nov. 2006 that Baidu had not infringed copyright because it only provided links, prompting IFPI to appeal the case on behalf of the labels.

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