Monday, May 04, 2009

The Great Reverse Firewall of China?

Wired reports:

Google on Monday launched free downloads of licensed songs in China, while sharing advertising revenue with major music labels in a market rife with online piracy.

Lee Kai-Fu, president of Google in greater China, said one reason Google lagged in the mainland search market was because it did not offer music downloads, the missing piece to its strategy in a market where it trails leader

"We are offering free, high quality and legal downloads," Lee told reporters. "We were missing one piece ... we didn't have music."

The service offers downloads of some 350,000 songs — from Chinese and foreign artists — a number that will rise to 1.1 million in the coming months, said Gary Chen, chief executive of Google's partner, a Chinese music website co-founded by basketball star Yao Ming.

Music from artists signed by Sony Music, Warner Music, EMI and Universal Music will be available on the service, which Google has no current plans to expand beyond China, said Lee.
Pretty cool, free downloads of music.

How much do you want to bet that those of us in the US and Europe will be blocked if we try to access that site (or banned from using Internet if we succeed)? The great firewall of China is now working two ways: keeping free speech out and keeping free music in. Is it wrong to admit that I am not quite sure which side of the wall I would rather be on?

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