Universal Music confirms that it is holding talks with Google and Beijing-based music-download service top100.cn to provide music via the Web in China.

"Universal has expressed interest in participating in Google and top100.cn's legal music search," says a Universal Music South East Asia spokesperson, without providing details.

Unconfirmed media reports say Google and top100.cn are planning a free MP3 download service to compete with leading Beijing-based Web portal/search engine Baidu, which provides "deep links" to Web sites offering unauthorized music downloads. The reports say that EMI and Sony BMG may take part in the service.

Universal Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) and Warner Music Hong Kong filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Baidu with the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Feb. 4.

No details regarding matters such as revenue-sharing and copyright protection were available at press time. Most businesses in China are closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.