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Baidu launches (legal) online video company

Shades of Hulu

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A Hulu-esque online television channel is being created for internet users behind China's Great Firewall.

The country's top o' the heap search engine Baidu said Wednesday it plans to form a new online venture that will serve free (and legal) copyrighted video content to Chinese internet users.

Baidu will spin-out a new, yet-to-be-named independent company to provide the service, which will generate revenue through online advertising. The search firm said it intends to stream a variety licensed movies, TV series, sport events, animation, and other content on the service, but didn't provide any details on specific licensing deals or partnerships.

Baidu was not immediately available for comment.

The online video venture will be helmed by Yu Gong, formerly the chief executive of China Mobile's 12580 hotline logistics service.

"By establishing this new company, we will be able to better serve our users and customers with superior content and focused resources," said Xuyang Ren, Baidu's vice president of business development in its English-language statement.

Ren said Gong's "strong" industry experience would enable growth through product innovation and a network of partnerships with content providers."

Baidu hasn't always been terribly concerned with copyrights when serving content. In fact, the company owes much of its popularity to a "deep links" unlicensed MP3 music scheme The Reg described in detail a year ago.

More recently, however, China's government has taken a harder hand against its home-grown online music services.

It wasn't mentioned how Baidu's licensed online video foray will affect its investment in PPLive, a separate Chinese web site that streams licensed movies and shows gratis. ®

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