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Warner Confirms Music Deal Talks With Major UK ISPs

Posted: 02nd Apr, 2008 By: MarkJ
Warner Music has confirmed last months rumour (news) that elements of the music industry are in talks with major UK ISPs to offer special music and broadband access bundles. The Times piece reports that consumers could be given "unlimited" music downloads as part of their monthly contract fee.

This method is being seen as one potential solution to the growing problem of online piracy, which we covered in our recent 'To Ban or Not to Ban (Illegal File Sharers)' article last month:

A source close to one of the UK's largest ISPs, who would not be named, said: "Conversations are definitely happening with Warner, but the idea is that eventually all the major labels will come on board. The music industry is shifting more and more to an 'access' model, and we're actively looking at services where unlimited tracks would be bundled into a tariff."

Warner's chief executive, Edgar Bronfman, has already pioneered something similar in the USA, where customers pay an additional $5 (£2.5) per month for access to Warner’s whole catalogue. Given that Britain is often more affectionately known as "Rip-off Britain", you can expect it to cost more over this side of the pond.

However, the deal is not yet set in stone and some providers are known to have a number of reservations. For example, ISPs are being requested to give a minimum guarantee of revenue per month, which is difficult to do and ignores the fact that they might want a slice of the pie too. The limited number of labels involved could also hinder its attractiveness to consumers, though this is expected to improve.

Meanwhile the BPI has urged that ISPs do more to clamp down on music piracy before labels can be encouraged to reach an agreement. Still, the idea itself sounds promising, although we hope it's extended to smaller providers.
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