Virgin Media has announced that they have struck a deal with Universal Music that will offer Virgin Media broadband customers unlimited music streams and downloads, at the cost of a monthly subscription fee. In return, Virgin Media will launch a new campaign to educate its customers about piracy, and introduce new measures to tackle those who illegally distribute Universal Music's intellectual property.
The music service will allow users to download and stream as much music as they wish, and allow them to keep what they download, permanently. In addition, users will also be able to copy the music to any device which can play MP3 files. For users that don't download enough to make the cost of the unlimited package worth it, an entry-level package will be available. Virgin Media are also looking at working with other labels to offer a wider range of music.
In return for gaining access to Universal Music's music collection, Virgin Media will be cracking down on pirates who distribute Universal Music's music using their broadband service. In their press release, Virgin Media explicitly state that they won't permanently disconnect their users; however they will suspend access if users repeatedly share music - although they state that this will only be used as a last resort.
"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," Virgin Media said in their press release.
While many internet providers and anti-piracy organizations have proposed more severe solutions, Virgin Media (in the deal with Universal Music) have decided to take a less severe route, and in addition said that the process of discovering users who illegally distribute music using their service will "not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media."
Although just how Virgin Media will discover users that are illegally distributing music using their broadband service may bring up a few concerns, many will see the deal as a way forward for both consumers and record labels.