Feeds

Virgin to offer unlimited, DRM-free music

But freetards may experience a temporary disconnection

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Virgin Media is to launch the world's first unlimited, DRM-free music download service in the UK by Christmas. It's signed the world's biggest label - the Vivendi-owned Universal Music Group - for the launch, and says it's talking to publishers and other labels.

The service will be priced at "a couple of albums per month", sources suggest. Ahead of tomorrow's Carter Report, it's also hinted at stiffer sanctions for downloaders.

The network, which serves around four million residential customers, claims it's the first unlimited music service to offer DRM-free music with a network anywhere in the world. Last year, TDC in Denmark broke new ground by offering subscribers unlimited downloads - but these were "tethered" and songs expired when the subscriber cancelled the service, or moved to another ISP.

Evidence suggests physical sales have increased in Denmark. Recently Orange has begun offering unlimited downloads via Nokia's Comes With Music - but these are tethered to a device, and can't be played on the most popular player, the iPod.

In an official statement, Virgin hinted at the tit for the tat - including a promise to send freetards to the naughty step.

Virgin said that a range of measures will, "include, as a last resort for persistent offenders, a temporary suspension of internet access. No customers will be permanently disconnected and the process will not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media."

(How will they do that, we wonder.)

Major labels have been reluctant to embrace services that are both unlimited and untethered. Only 18 months ago, top level figures expressed the fear of enthusiasts joining, downloading and then leaving such a service.

"You can't have a subscription model where somebody on a monthly model of say $10, go on in January, download 6m tracks, and leave in February," IFPI chief executive John Kennedy told us.

The Virgin deal suggests that this reluctance has now been overcome: apart from a tiny handful of obsessive hoarders, most people want to get music when they want, not hoard it in case of some future shortage.

File-sharing, allowing subscribers to share songs, remains a step too far, however. Virgin had invested significant sums in just such a service but stood its team down in January.

Nevertheless, if Virgin can sign up the other three majors and independents, other ISPs will have to rethink their plans. Details of Sky's service leaked out here recently.

"We would urge other ISPs to follow Virgin’s lead and create new music partnerships that offer the consumer legal access to the full range of content, regardless of platform," said UK Music's Feargal Sharkey. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.