Cable TV operator Virgin Media is to launch a "ground breaking" unlimited music download subscription service through a partnership with the world's largest music company, Universal.
The service, which both sides describe as a world first, will allow any Virgin Media broadband customer to both listen by streaming and download to keep as many music tracks and albums as they want from Universal's catalogue in return for a fee.
The music will be in the MP3 format, meaning it can be played on the vast majority of music devices, including the iPod and mobile phones. The service is set to launch later this year.
Virgin said as part of its cooperation with the music industry it would also work to help prevent piracy on its network by educating users and would, as a last resort for persistent offenders, suspend Internet access.
Virgin said no customers would be permanently disconnected, however.
Will these suspensions include publishing, films, non-Universal songs, software, audio books, data sets, images....And tomorrow is? From Reuters.
And here is Rory Cellan-Jones' initial take:
Then I read further down the press release and found what Virgin was offering in return - action against persistent file-sharers. Here's the key paragraph:
"This will involve implementing a range of different strategies to educate file sharers about online piracy and to raise awareness of legal alternatives. They 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."
And here, one day before DB-Day, is a response from Lord Carter himself.
The UK’s [current] minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, Stephen Carter, has welcomed the announcement of Virgin Media and UMG’s unlimited streaming and downloads music service.
“Government has a role in creating the right legal and regulatory framework for rights and copyright,” says Carter. “However, the market will flourish through innovative commercial agreements between companies, and agreements such as this will help significantly in reducing any demand for piracy.”