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UPDATE UNLIMITED Virgin Media UK Broadband Music Service Could Face LIMITS

Posted: 09th Oct, 2009 By: MarkJ
Long held plans by Virgin Media UK and Universal Music to launch a DRM-free "unlimited" music download and streaming service for broadband customers could have hit yet another wall. Reports indicate that the crucially important 'unlimited downloads' tier might have been dropped, leaving only a Spotify style streaming option to carry their unlimited slogan.

Concerns about the service are nothing new, with both EMI and Sony Music having been the most recent labels to air their fears (September news). Now news from The Register appears to confirm the music industry's complete inability to provide an effective legal alternative to the more accessible illegal P2P file sharing method.

The report states that Virgin Media's new top-tier package, which should cost about £15 per month, has been forced to replace its "unlimited downloads" option with a monthly limit of 40 music file/track downloads. Virgin itself states that they are still working towards the original goal and its final package details could still change.

Virgin Media had originally intended to launch a fully P2P based unlimited music service, although some of the big music labels managed to scupper that idea too. So while Rights Holders have got everybody that counts in political circles to blame the ISPs, they themselves continue to fail consumers by withholding the kind of service that is so desperately demanded.

Next week’s Queens Speech is expected to include an outline of new enforcement measures against broadband ISP subscribers who repeatedly download illegal music files. We will be keeping an ear out to see if the downright evil disconnection policy gets a mention.

UPDATE - 10th October 2009:

Industry sources have suggested to us that the reason why VM appears to have dropped its unlimited option is perhaps related to the fact that Rights Holders wanted them to block P2P access for people not subscribed to any of the packages.

UPDATE - 12th October 2009:

Here's the official line from Virgin Media:

A Virgin Media spokesperson said:

"Virgin Media is forging new ground with our music service and we want to provide a truly compelling offering for both consumers and industry. We are making good progress in developing the service and in addition to the deal that we have signed with Universal Music, we are currently in talks with both major and independent labels to launch a comprehensive service."
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