Despite claiming a victory against a major peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing operator last year, there is still a long road ahead for Taiwan's online music industry, especially after another online distributor of copyrighted music dropped out of the market this week.
QBand, an online music store run by BenQ Corp (
The withdrawal followed that of iBIZ Entertainment Technology Corp (
KKBOX, an online music store developed by Skysoft Co (願境網訊), and HiMusic, a joint venture of Hinet and Rock Records (滾石), are now the only legal online music providers in the market.
"We reported a deficit last year, but hope to start making money this year," KKBOX president Lin Kuan-chun (
KKBOX started offering unlimited downloading of copyrighted music files for a monthly charge of NT$149 in October last year. The downloaded files files can only be played on computers, and are not compatible with mobile devices.
The company had planned to offer music files that can be played on digital music devices with a digital copyright-management system, but announced on Tuesday that it was postponing the service because few players are equipped with this function.
KKBOX currently has about 120,000 subscribers, which is not even one-third the subscriber base of kuro.com.tw (
Last September, the Taipei District Court found Kuro guilty of infringing on intellectual property rights, and the company's chairman, chief executive officer and president were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to three years, along with a fine of NT$3 million (US$993,000) each. One Kuro member was also sentenced to four months in jail with probation of three years.
But the ruling does not seem to have intimidated users into abandoning the NT$99 all-you-can-swap service.
Kuro spokeswoman Maggie Ko (
"No progress has been made so far," Ko said. "I think we should figure out a way that can benefit online music providers, record companies and consumers."
While Kuro is struggling to maintain its current operations, its US counterparts such as Morpheus are becoming more inclined to play by the copyright holders' rules.
Regardless of the dim outlook for the sector, Yahoo-Kimo Inc (
Paying for online downloading is a trend, and the company believes it can strike the right note with its marketing strategies, Wu said, adding that details of the new service will not be revealed before the launch.