Virgin Media Unveil Illegal-Download Busting Subscription ServiceWritten by Christian Milsom on June 15, 2009 · Filed under Internet, Tech
Easily the biggest problem that the music industry over the last decade has been the exponential growth in the illegal downloading and sharing of music which attracts millions of eager internet users with the offer of free music and practically no chance of being caught/prosecuted.
Not that the music industry hasn’t tried – the corpses of dead attempts litter the musical history books for the last five years – through methods as diverse as tying tracks to credit cards and unpopular as digital rights management (DRM) but as of yet they have been unsuccessful. So step up Virgin Media with their attempt to solve the conundrum.
So what’s the master plan? Well there are a couple of steps that they intend to take – one is centred more on attracting people away from the need to download illegally (and generate a nice bit of revenue for Virgin) and the second is more of a punishment for those who still intend to download music illegally regardless.
On a simple level the first option is just a music subscription service, that will offer unlimited music every month for a small charge, and they have teamed up with Universal Music to offer artists such as U2, Amy Winehouse and Kanye West which should attract quite a few people. You be able to either stream or download the music and then play it through a media player.
There are two main problems that immediately jump to ones attention, the first being that this is not a new concept (there are already loads of subscription services, not to mention those that have fallen by the wayside) and it will be up against some stiff competition that have been in the market at lot longer than they have.
The second is the idea of a ‘small charge’ which obviously makes it immediately less attractive than downloading through LimeWire (even if it is legal). However Virgin claim that it would only be a similar amount to that of buying two albums a month, and there will also be a smaller charge for those who want to download but do not require ‘unlimited’ numbers.
The second part of their ‘two pronged’ attack will involve the ‘temporary suspension’ of internet access for those who download illegally through the cable operator’s network, and this should be launched by the end of the year.
As of yet we have absolutely no idea how this work, and whether there will be any loophole through which people can still access music illegally, but the whole idea of suspending access will only really work on a wide scale basis if other ISPs join in, and I imagine that is what Virgin and Universal Music are hoping will happen.
This all comes on the eve of Lord Carter’s ‘Digital Britain’ report which will outline suggestions to reduce the amount of illegal downloads, which will hopefully spark a worldwide crack down on the ‘criminals’ that have so far evaded attempts to stop them.
So will this all work? Well to be honest I think that Virgin’s subscription idea will only be successful if they price it right as people will otherwise just continue to use what they are already familiar with (like iTunes) or a service offering ‘free’ music such as the now officially legal Spotify, and like I said the second idea of stopping people’s internet access will only be successful on a large scale if more ISPs join in… we shall see!
Via – Guardian