Google Inc. is preparing as early as Tuesday to unveil a new online music service similar to a service recently launched by Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, a move that escalates the battle to create the next generation of Internet businesses for storing and listening to music.
Google, like Amazon, hasn’t secured licenses from the four major recorded-music companies, according to these people, and is likely to include a system that functions much like a remote hard drive.
Users of the service are expected to be able to listen to songs they have uploaded to the service in a so-called streaming mode but won’t be able to download the files themselves. That limit appears to be a bid by Google to hinder the service from being used to spread pirated music.
A Google spokeswoman had no comment.
Google is likely to announce the service Tuesday at its annual Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, these people said. Initially, the service is to operate in a testing mode, and not be available to the public at large.
The service is unlikely to be tied to an online music store like Amazon MP3, which gives users the option of adding new songs to their music locker at the time they buy them.
The system Google is likely to unveil is known within the technology and music industries as a “passive” locker. Such systems generally are believed by people in the music industry not to require licenses from record companies. But that kind of system also tends to offer a fairly limited set of features. Amazon Cloud, for instance, is considered by many in the industry to be a first step toward a more ambitious offering that Amazon could create once it has licenses in place.
With licenses from music companies, a locker-service operator could give users instant access to songs stored in central servers, rather than making those users upload every song in their music collections.
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