America Online shut down the MP3-file search engine on its Nullsoft Winamp music player site Wednesday.
Users attempting to search MP3-formatted songs are greeted with: "Sorry. Search unavailable at this time. Sad, sad Nullsoft."
"The search came down because we saw that we don't have an efficient way to distinguish between legal and illegal MP3s," says Jay Whitney, an AOL spokesman. He denies, however, that the move is due to pressure from Time Warner.
AOL is planning a merger with Time Warner, which has a music unit and is suing several MP3 file-sharing companies, including the controversial Napster search program.
Napster is currently facing legal action by the music industry for similarly failing to distinguish between legal and pirated music.