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AOL has pulled its digital music search engine, as it cannot reliably distinguish between legal and illegal MP3s, the company said. The recording industry has described the MP3 format as a vehicle for piracy, and has recently brought a new vigour to its efforts to stop the illegal distribution of music.

Also, not long ago AOL and Time Warner proposed that the companies should merge. The Wall Street Journal reports that staff at Time Warner's Music group have questioned AOL's decision to launch the music search service without considering the impact it could have on Time Warner's relationship with its artists. Time Warner declined to comment.

The search engine was located on an AOL subsidiary's site, Nullsoft. Nullsoft created and distributes Winmap, an MP3 player program for Windows. AOL said that while the search engine could not distinguish between legal and illegal MP3's the search program would remain off line. ®

Related stories:
Pirates, make 'em walk the plank
Napster boosts music sales - survey

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