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Virgin-Universal Deal Offers Unlimited Music, Goes After File Sharers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the something-for-something dept.

Music 254

suraj.sun writes "The UK's Virgin Media could start suspending persistent file sharers on a temporary basis, using information provided to it by Universal Music. The ISP announced on Monday that it would, before Christmas, launch an all-you-can-eat music download service for its users, based on a monthly subscription fee. The tracks will all be DRM-free. 'In parallel, the two companies will be working together to protect Universal Music's intellectual property and drive a material reduction in the unauthorized distribution of its repertoire across Virgin Media's network,' a statement read. '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.' DTecNet has already been working with UK content companies for some time to do much the same thing, and is also working with RIAA in the United States."

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brr. (0, Troll)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341371)

frost?

Sounds like a plan (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341391)

Are they going to suspend Virgin Corporation's internet access if one of their employees downloads an MP3 using it?

Fairness in the EU (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341953)

Seeing how the EU courts are banning Microsoft for daring to have a web browser in Windows, does this mean they are setting a trend?

Will Apple be forced to have iTunes offer a "choice" of music services to connect to, instead of defaulting to the anti-choice iTunes music store?

And why can't I sync my non-Apple device with my iTunes library?

Sounds like an untapped monopoly, just ripe for squeezing handouts from every 8-12 months by the EU!

Re:Fairness in the EU (1)

hplus (1310833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342175)

And why can't I sync my non-Apple device with my iTunes library?

Because you didn't buy one of these players [apple.com] . Note the many non-iPod players on that list. If you meant to imply that iTunes was somehow locked to only work with iPods, sorry for bursting your bubble.

Re:Fairness in the EU (3, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342369)

Note the many non-iPod players on that list

Note the number of manufacturers on that list. Creative Labs makes seven, there are a bunch of "Rios" by Sonic Blue, a couple by Nike (?!?) and ... oh, yeah. Apple.

So, which of those *many* players does my local electronics store stock? Well, I'm not sure cause their online search is hooped. I'm sure at least some of the players on that list are long obsolete.

I wouldn't call that a list of "many non-iPod players." I would call it a list of three companies who did a licensing deal with Apple.

If you meant to imply that the gp was full of it when he suggested that iTunes - for all practical purposes - really only works with iPods, sorry to burst your bubble.

Smells like hypocrites for dinner... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28342029)

Are they going to suspend Virgin Corporation's internet access if one of their employees downloads an MP3 using it?

Will they cut their own access off if the corporation is caught breaking copyright law? And, could they manage it without cutting off all their customers too?

Re:Smells like hypocrites for dinner... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342117)

"Anonymous Cowardon" restates his own question. Wierd.

Re:Sounds like a plan ... Well there won't be many (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342051)

Left in the US to shut down, since they sold off or are going to sell off most or all their US operations...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7828483.stm [bbc.co.uk]

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96MR0NO0&show_article=1 [breitbart.com]

Also, frrom what i heard from a source, they made so much cash selling the Times Square location that they just happily threw in the other US locations just to be done with them.

Re:Sounds like a plan (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342151)

Are they going to suspend Virgin Corporation's internet access if one of their employees downloads an MP3 using it?

Don't be silly. After all, it's "information", not "court order". It will only hurt the little guys.

Virgin? Pfft (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341397)

Nobody this intent on raping their customers should be calling themselves a virgin.

Re:Virgin? Pfft (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341489)

Anal doesn't count.

Monthly fee (5, Funny)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341403)

I already pay a monthly fee for such a service. It's called DSL.

Re:Monthly fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341479)

How realistic and politically incorrect of you. You're going to hurt their feelings. Play along with them as they slowly die off and everyone is happy.

Re:Monthly fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341725)

Unfortunately the concept that the internet IS information and that your connection fee is a guarantee of that information seriously impedes the idea that some information is worth paying for.
 
  I know several people smarter than me, I hope you do too. It doesn't make me jealous that there's some things they can think of better than I can... even in the general sense.

Re:Monthly fee (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28342063)

Yes, we all know several people smarter than you.

Re:Monthly fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341873)

Wow, I wish I had your service. My service, OC-1, does not cover it. Fuck.

Re:Monthly fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341905)

lol true story.

Re:Monthly fee (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342227)

I already pay a monthly fee for such a service. It's called DSL.

No, no, no. Their service lets you download music. DSL lets you download (or upload) anything that can be represented digitally.

Net Neutrality implications? (3, Insightful)

Enuratique (993250) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341405)

I agree that this is a risky venture... Though, at least they're trying new ideas and bringing everything to the table when they do... For one thing it could backfire - driving customers away from their service. Is it like America across the pond where many municipalities allow broadband providers a legal monopoly? And won't this further blur the line between content providers and internet providers? Will this subscription service be optional? What if I don't want the price of my bill inflated an extra $10 a month for the privilege of downloading music guilt free? What if I'm happy as a pig in shit with the current system (eg: morally bankrupt)?

Re:Net Neutrality implications? (4, Interesting)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341631)

I want to know if they will cut someone off for downloading Warner Bros. or Sony BMG music, considering that this deal is for Universal Music Group, would they protect the rights of the other labels even though they are not directly involved in the deal?

Re:Net Neutrality implications? (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341799)

Furthermore, what about the people who like to import music or listen to music from other countries. I sure as hell would never pay for a service unless it would allow me to access Japanese and European music as well as the occasional American group I actually like or the foreign groups that get US releases. Plus like other users have mentioned, it is not worth the price if they are only giving it to us in MP3 format regardless of the quality of the files.

Re:Net Neutrality implications? (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341941)

Oh no it's not risky.. you are not looking at it right.

Everything for one monthly fee, and they will be going after file sharers and illegal file holders with vigor...

I.E. if you dont subscribe and have music on your computer, you're a criminal. The ONLY way to not get labeled a criminal is to subscribe to the service.

I might be paranoid, but Evil is as Evil does.

Re:Net Neutrality implications? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342317)

it's not risky...The ONLY way to not get labeled a criminal is to subscribe to the service.

Well, yeah... that, or boycott them and use one of the saner ISPs.

Re:Net Neutrality implications? (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342031)

Not everyone that is happy as a pig in shit with the current system are morally bankrupt. Some of us make full use of itunes and would be quite upset if on top of our itunes bill we have to pay more money. Others simply DON'T listen to music. Some people are deaf you know, no reason they should be forced to pay an extra $10 for internet access. Not to mention those of us that simply don't like music in the same way that some people don't watch TV or the appaling number of people that don't read books.

Re:Net Neutrality implications? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342311)

> Is it like America across the pond where many municipalities allow broadband providers a legal monopoly

No. Anyone can provide internet access. A lot of - perhaps most - people are connected via BT landlines to their exchange, and it is from that exchange that other companies can provide access. Or there's genuine "hole in the wall" fibre, utterly independant of BT. (BT was previously the state owned phone company before privatisation, and it slowly lose its monopoly, but it had something of a lead over competitors).

Interesting (3, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341425)

Interesting. First off, when they say suspend, does that only go for Virgin Media customers (if there are any, not sure what the UK ISP world is like)?

Second, the all-you-can-download idea sounds reasonable. If the catalog is extensive enough (including classical), and it truly is DRM-free and platform-agnostic, I could actually see myself using this. They had better make sure the file metadata is good (a large collection with good metadata is worth paying for), and it'd be nice if they had something like iTune's "Genius" to find things you might like based on your current collection.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

awarrenfells (1289658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341487)

Just coming from an ISP perspective, I imagine it would be only their customers. Most ISPs only suspend accounts for a violation of their own AUP or ToS. However, most ISPs have a ToS against P2P file sharing, so if the other company can prove such activity, I imagine suspension could occur.

Re:Interesting (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341563)

From a consumer side of things, a pay-per-month model of getting access to a DRM-free library does sound good, but it seems awfully fishy that Universal would offer it. Wouldn't most people sign up for 1 month, download everything they want, and then cancel? Or are they really going to make it cheap enough, and adding new (good) content frequently enough, to make the whole thing worth it? I have my doubts.

As far as suspending copyright infringers, I've always been concerned by how readily ISPs seem to punish their own customers over a civil dispute in which they ought to have no stake. I guess if they're getting a cut of the action with this service, it makes some sense.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341747)

If they can provide enough new content each month it could be worth subscribing.

Also, people may intend to only subscribe for a little while but end up sticking around out of inertia.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

bigngamer92 (1418559) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341889)

"If they can provide enough new quality content each month it could be worth subscribing."

Fixed for you.

Of course with the current state of the music industry it would be:
"If they can provide enough new content that they play on the radio then people will keep subscribing."

Re:Interesting (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341833)

Wouldn't most people sign up for 1 month, download everything they want, and then cancel? Or are they really going to make it cheap enough, and adding new (good) content frequently enough, to make the whole thing worth it? I have my doubts.

Good question. I would guess that they would do a contract term with the service. I'd guess 12 or even 24 months, and the requisite early termination fee.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28342001)

It probably would be cheaper than buying all of the CDs. I do wonder how that would work. Are you allowed to license it DRM free for as long as you have the subscription, or do you own it and can get new content for as long as you have the subscription. That's a big difference.

Why help Universal screw artists harder? (4, Informative)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342007)

If Universal had a deal where the artist gets half of the take, you'd have far less reason to suspect an all-you-can-hear deal because you'd know you're helping artists and encouraging them to publish more music. As it is, there's nothing in this deal which even suggests a better arrangement for artists (the people corporate copyright holders love to trot out whenever illicit copying and distribution comes up).

The catalogs aren't the same, and neither is the history of pay-for-play, but compare the deal Universal is touting to the deal Magnatune [magnatune.com] has offered for years. Both are all-you-can-hear, but Magnatune lets you set the price (above a specified minimum), you get more choice in what types of files you want (I like FLAC, it's unencumbered, lossless, and I can transcode to something lossy if I choose), the half-goes-to-the-artist deal still stands, and artists license Magnatune which allows artists to retain their copyrights. Magnatune has no history of pay-for-play but all of the biggest music publishers do; I see no reason to reward that history with my sale. I didn't have to worry about risk: anyone can listen to Magnatune's entire catalog online at no charge. I don't have to worry about risking my Internet connection if I share Magnatune tracks [magnatune.com] either; even if Magnatune had the power to suspend my Internet connection I've got license to share. I put my money where my mouth is and I've bought an unlimited subscription from Magnatune. I'll not do the same with Universal until their deal gets a lot better for me and the artists whose interests they claim to care about.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28342085)

Even better: 1 person sign up and and take orders for a couple hundred of their closest friends.

The truth is that the large corporate media middle man model is fatally broken. Yes they will scream about "protecting the poor artist" and fight a few more sensational court battles but its just the dance of dead men walking.

Not many are going to pay for what they can easily get for free. And free does not pay the rent. How long before they try adding Ads halfway into a track?

Re:Interesting (3, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342111)

Wouldn't most people sign up for 1 month, download everything they want, and then cancel?

Debatable.

It's easily said: download everything they want. Maybe quite a few people will do that: sign up, binge on free mp3s, save them, then quit. But it seems to me that the people who would do that are pirates already. They've already downloaded everything they want.

Meanwhile, if you're Joe Average, can you enumerate all the tracks you want, such that you could grab the lot of them in one mass download? It's a hell of a job. You'd always forget some band or other, then months later slap your head in frustration and go 'Oh... I knew I should have downloaded more of the back catalogue of Oingo Boingo!'

I don't view the service here as 'pay to download music'. It's not really a sale thing. Why would I buy what I can have for free? This service is pitched at the lost generation, at the people aged 30 and down who have completely lost touch with the idea that music is something you pay for and then keep. We now treat music differently. Music is free - and I don't want to hear about copyright: maybe music SHOULDN'T be free, but that doesn't change the fact that it IS free.

What I'll pay for is the service of organising music. My music collection is a total shambles. It's inconsistently tagged. It's encoded at a variety of bitrates and in a variety of formats, such that no MP3 player made since the glory days of iRiver will play them all without a Rockbox hack. And it occupies disk space that could be used for anime or porn. Frankly it's a mess.

So that's what might attract me to Virgin's offering. If it's as complete as The Pirate Bay or more so, and the music is consistently tagged and encoded at a high quality, then a monthly fee is eminently fair to have access to that resource. Why would I download and keep any of it? Why should I go to the bother of maintaining my own collection? It's right there on a service run by my own ISP at the other end of a 20 megabit connection. Music on demand. The colossal cloud jukebox.

Re:Interesting (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342409)

What I'll pay for is the service of organising music. My music collection is a total shambles. It's inconsistently tagged. It's encoded at a variety of bitrates and in a variety of formats, such that no MP3 player made since the glory days of iRiver will play them all without a Rockbox hack. And it occupies disk space that could be used for anime or porn. Frankly it's a mess. So that's what might attract me to Virgin's offering. If it's as complete as The Pirate Bay or more so, and the music is consistently tagged and encoded at a high quality, then a monthly fee is eminently fair to have access to that resource.

Exactly. I have about 50 gigs of music, but it may as well be 5, because only that much is properly tagged and organized. I've tried tackling the organization problem in the past, but it's just too overwhelming. I'd pay for properly tagged music.

That said, I wonder if it really will be tagged well - i.e., beyond simply Artist/Album/Title/Year. For classical music, I'd like to have the composer, and date of composition would be nice, too.

Also, you'd want to be able to download to take it with you on your portable devices - and so that it doesn't disappear when you decide you want to end your subscription.

Re:Interesting (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342177)

I think the point of ISP's suspecting copyright infringing users is pretty simple, and one that has yet to be tried out.

Real simple. There is no safe harbor for what your customers are doing. If they are doing illegal things that the ISP can detect and block - something that is probably not far off - they have an obligation to do so. Failure to do so means they are an accomplice and liable for damages, at least contributory damages.

Today nobody has tried this approach because it is not clear that an ISP can detect copyright infringement in a clear and unambiguous way. Should this change, ISPs will certainly be viewed differently in the US.

Re:Interesting (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342343)

From a consumer side of things, a pay-per-month model of getting access to a DRM-free library does sound good, but it seems awfully fishy that Universal would offer it.

I'd be surprised if it were truly DRM free - if Universal releases their entire play list; what would be the point of staying subscribed once you got the songs you really want? Or, simply having one person in a group sign up and "share" offline? My guess is they'll have some sort of ID tag to identify the music tied to the original subscriber; so if songs get shared beyond that then they have someone to sue.

Of course, that doesn't solve the churn problem - if people simply subscribe to get a catalog and then bolt, how do you generate a reliable long term revenue stream? Do you produce enough new music each month to make a subscription a more viable option than say iTunes or buying CDs? Do you slowly release the catalog to milk people for subscription fees?

Finally, how do you negotiate payments for songs sold by this method? Large volumes of downloads means each song gets a small slice of teh revenue - so a per d/l fixed cut could kill Universal. How many people would simply d/l everything they can because it's "free?"

I bet you see caps and some sort of watermarking at a minimum.

Offtopic, but (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341749)

I dislike use of the term "platform-agnostic" as "agnostic" would imply "doesn't know." Really, what you mean is perhaps "doesn't care" which would be better expressed as "platform-apathetic."

Or perhaps you mean is "does not depend on the features of any specific platform" which could be expressed as "platform-independent."

Or, even more accurately, maybe you mean "can run on any platform" which might be expressed as "omni-platform-compatible"

The only phrase out of all of these which really fails to express what you are getting it as "platform-agnostic."

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28342209)

Previous subscription-based systems have relied on a form of DRM to enforce the payment.
Otherwise, in theory, you could join up and leech like mad for a while and drop the subscription when you had enough music.
Or don't we consider the music "calling home" occasionally as DRM?

No oversight. Who polices these people? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341433)

Right, where's the due process in all of this?

Oh right, it's business, so it can do whatever it likes.

Someone bring back the mafia, at least they had style.

I wonder how much this subscription will be, and whether it will be mandatory or optional. It won't get money to the non-label bands though, will it, just Universal. Wankers.

Re:No oversight. Who polices these people? (0)

kentrel (526003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341917)

Your comment makes no sense. Your ridiculous comparison to the mafia, joking or not, just shows how out of touch you are with reality. There is no medium on the planet that will get music to non-label bands by buying another band and another label's music. If you want to get money to these bands... then do what everyone else does - buy their music.

And what is wrong with the music going to the label? The band signed the label. It was their choice that they'd lose a huge percentage of income in exchange for mass exposure and distribution.. Like whats going to make you people happy? There are many good reasons why its difficult for record labels, large or independant to give away music for free, and make their money on touring. There will never be an age where 100% of music is free to distribute legally without any compensation for the people who invested in it. This sounds like a reasonable compromise. Nobody is forcing it on you, but they have every right to disconnect your internet if you break the law. SO RELAX.

Re:No oversight. Who polices these people? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341969)

No oversight. Who polices these people?

Their customers. If mistakes/abuses are common enough, they'll have a class action lawsuit on their hands.

They're a business, as you said. If they have a system for weeding out pirates that they think will work, they can use it in their service. If it doesn't work, well, then it won't be very successful.

I wonder how much this subscription will be, and whether it will be mandatory or optional.

I don't. I'm pretty damn sure it will be optional.

It won't get money to the non-label bands though, will it, just Universal.

No, but then again, they were never selling the music of non-label bands, were they? All you'll be getting for the subscription price will be RIAA signed music. If you want non-label bands, and you don't want to rip them off, you'll have to actually pay for the music.

Too little, too late? (3, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341447)

It's really a shame that it took over a decade for a music producer to provide what people have been asking for instead of trying to force their own solution down their customers throats.

Oh wait...they still want to suspend accounts.

Re:Too little, too late? (1)

tubegeek (958995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341787)

What you wrote was pretty much what I was going to post . . . . They would have had some decent success with this model in 1995, I think. The horse is WAY out of the barn now.

Re:Too little, too late? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342133)

If they have a higher standard of proof than the RIAA, then I'm fine with them terminating pirates.

As far as I'm concerned, wankers who pirate stuff just to avoid paying for it are just as much scum as the RIAA, in that they're trying to freeload off the efforts of others.

Generally, the law should be obeyed. The fact that these pirates are getting away with it doesn't make it right, or make the law flawed.

If civil rights were at stake I might advocate civil disobedience. However, that is not the case here, and thus the pirates don't have a moral leg to stand on.

Economically, they are also hurting the pockets of the companies that make the stuff, either by pirating instead of buying, or letting someone else freeload off of them.

So, pirates get zero sympathy from me, especially if they get caught red handed with a smoking gun in their hand.

As long as no innocent bystanders suffer, I say let the pirates go to hell. The only thing they're doing is helping karma tit the middlemen for tatting the artists.

good luck.. hard to compete with $0 (2, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341457)

I can already go to the library, or even the radio to listen to free music but I guess it is a small step in the right direction.

It only took them how many years after iTunes and Amazon mp3 was out?

> In terms of both convenience and value, our new music service will be superior to anything that's available online today

Bwuahaha. Let me know when I can download .FLACs

Interesting but... (2, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341467)

What format for the download? 128Kbit lossy compression? I could not find any mention of that. For it to really work out, I would want at least CD quality lossless compression.

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341491)

Legal or not, if this isn't AS GOOD AS what us pirates can get, then just why would we even think about paying for it?

I'd shell out $10 a month for legal .flac's of whatever I want. Nothing more, nothing less. Album covers and MD5 sums too.

Re:Interesting but... (3, Insightful)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341751)

> Legal or not, if this isn't AS GOOD AS what us pirates can get, then just why would we even think about paying for it?

Some sort of crazy notion of rewarding people who create the content in the first place?

Re:Interesting but... (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341843)

Damn, someone brought common sense into the argument, HOW DARE YOU?!

The rest of slashdot is busy making up goals to be met by any service before they will stop pirating, crazy goals, mostly unobtainable goals, just so they can justify their piracy to themselves.

Yes I have downloaded music, only because its easier than ripping all my CDs myself, I probably have downloaded some tracks that I don't own, but conversely, I own a lot I haven't downloaded.

I will never sign up for such a deal, it only goes to fuel the RIAA and co even more, now I only purchase what albums I can direct from the bands directly.

The two very interesting implications of the OP though.

1. At a fixed rate for "all you can eat" how much per song worth of damages does that equate if I download the latest metallica album, listen to it once and delete it?
2. Once having paid the "all you can eat" fee, does it then mean I can go download my songs anywhere, since I now have a valid license for them?

Re:Interesting but... (2, Insightful)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342149)

The rest of slashdot is busy making up goals to be met by any service before they will stop pirating, crazy goals, mostly unobtainable goals, just so they can justify their piracy to themselves.

The rest of Slashdot would like a word with you, the word is cluebat. [wiktionary.org]

Perhaps after you have stopped attributing what you worry may be your own failings to others you can jump down off that high horse and appreciate that what you're saying has diddley squat to do with the issue at hand. Do you really think that the vast majority of people who buy music do so out of the goodness of their hearts? I mean, attributing peoples motivations to their use of money says a lot about your own priorities and not a lot about their own. If I may abuse generalisation in a manner you seem so good at, a lot of anti file-sharing people I hear would rather people boycotted an artists music than didn't pay for it. I'd be pretty pissed if I sold some poetry and someone started telling people they shouldn't read them because they could not afford to buy a copy or disagreed with where the money was going.

As an aside, I tend to spend money on music which is in a format I want (pretty much just Nine Inch Nails at this point) or by indie artists whose entire back catalogues I already probably have downloaded in FLAC format but have no hope of going to see a show for. This way the money I am spending is supporting a product I want to see more of (FLAC) and artists who will actually see most of the money from iTunes or whatever where there aren't any alternatives. What I wouldn't do is tell everyone that they should do the same thing I am doing, because I am at least marginally less arrogant than you.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342233)

Have you read half the comments on here?

"Oh I won't use it till it can run on NetBSD"

"Oh I won't use it till it gives me 740kb/s Ogg files"

I am not anti-file sharing (you missed where I said I have downloaded a lot of music?), however I am laughing like fuck at the people who try to justify it with the kind of excuses I list above.

I avoid music that I can't purchase direct now (yes, that limits me a lot, but I have found some great new bands who are very willing to sell me a copy of their album for around $5 or so), I, like all the others on here, don't give a fuck what you think (as they, and you likely think the same about me), just stating what I thought was funny.

In short, my argument is "I won't use it ever" :)

Re:Interesting but... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341995)

...which immediately rules out any sort of "official" electronic format.

The labels have been royally screwing the artists when it comes to iTunes
and the like. If I could have some assurance that my favorite bands would
actually benefit from such a scheme only then would I be interested in it.

OTOH, a "virtual hat" would probably do equally as well.

What's the artist's cut? Really?

It's time to make this sort of detail front and center along with whether
or not there will be DRM or it will be something that's Windows only.

Re:Interesting but... (5, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341793)

See, now this is where I have problems. Here is how the arguments have gone over the past years...

1. You shouldn't pirate...
"Well, we don't want to buy the whole CD! We only want good songs!"
Introduce iTunes/Amazon

2. You shouldn't pirate now...
"DRM! AHHHHHHHHHH!"
Remove DRM.

2. You shouldn't pirate now...
"The pricing model is bad and too expensive!"
Introduce scaling pricing with popularity.

3. You shouldn't pirate now...
"We can't get all of the songs we want for one low rate!"
Introduce unlimited downloads.

4. You shouldn't pirate now...
"We can't get the songs in as good of a quality as we want!"

This is stupid. People like yourself are obviously not going to pay no matter what because there is a free alternative. Please just stop trying to justify yourself and just say, "I like free stuff, and since I can get it, I'm not paying!" At least it would be honest instead of hiding behind a thinly veiled curtain of "complaints."

Mod Parent Up (1, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342019)

Look, mods, I know that the parent post is offensive to pirates, I know that slashdot is full of them, and I know he might get some impassioned responses, but modding people with valid opinions down, even if you find them that offensive, is considered "moderation abuse". If you were part of the government, it would be called "censorship".

Re:Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28342071)

Why...thank you! I wasn't trolling.

(Posting anonymously because I'm scared of the moderators now.)

D Ninja

Re:Interesting but... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342101)

Legal or not, if this isn't AS GOOD AS what us pirates can get, then just why would we even think about paying for it?

Why indeed? In fact, a paid for service will, by definition be more expensive than what you pirates can get, so why would you even think about paying with any service?

Well, I'm sure you're aware of the legality (or lack thereof) of your actions, so I'll say that artists enjoy working while not ever being paid as much as you would.

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341727)

For the average person, 128kbit lossy is more than enough quality, the only kind of people who would need anything more than that would be audiophiles and other people who love placebo effects.

Re:Interesting but... (1, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341907)

"128kbit lossy is more than enough quality, the only kind of people who would need anything more than that would be audiophiles and other people who love placebo effects.

Wow! If you can't easily tell the difference between a CD and a 128Kbit MP3, you are either listening through cheap ear buds or are hearing impaired. That is not "Monster Cable" audiophile or a placebo effect. The artifacts on a 128Kbit MP3 are obvious and annoying, 160Kbit AAC is very listenable for mobile players, but CD quality is the *baseline* for purchased music, at least for me.

Unfortunately, audiophile has become a loaded term meaning people who buy goofy stuff for high prices that makes little or no difference. I don't think preferring CD quality over a 128Kbit MP3 qualifies as that.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342035)

Yeah, you can tell the difference between CD and 128Kbps MP3, but can you tell the difference between CD and 256Kbps MP3? In a blind test?

Maybe you can. I've heard people claim to be able to, but I don't know anyone who can beat a blind test. Have you tried?

Re:Interesting but... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342193)

"...but can you tell the difference between CD and 256Kbps MP3?"

Probably not. I guess my main point is that I have been buying at a certain quality for 25 years! Now, in 2009, they may offer (a guess as they have not given details) quality *almost* as good as that. Why not just *erase* that issue with FLAC or equivalent. It would not be just as good then, it would be *better* because you would not need to rip or travel to Best Buy.

Everything is in place to do this, so why not get the ball rolling by offering a product that has actually improved over the last quarter century?

Re:Interesting but... (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341911)

This is the problem with the way things are going. A CD that is only available in a poor quality mp3 format that you can't purchase in CD format just leaves the people with ears reverting to download. There is no way I will pay for some mp3s when it doesn't contain all the parts of the song.

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341989)

Just because you have tin ears doesn't mean we all do.

Re:Interesting but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341885)

For it to really work out, I would want at least CD quality lossless compression.

Nuts! I think they can do even better than CD-quality lossless. I want RAW format ripped directly from vinyl records!

Re:Interesting but... (2, Interesting)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341887)

This is the same company that cries it's customers are using too much bandwidth at the same time as announcing a new faster service. Given the apparent blindness to what their broadband customers want broadband wise I'd be surprised if they manage to offer a music service that keeps mp3 users happy let alone those who want something better. The more companies spend all their effort crying about how their business is hurting because of their customers, the less able they are to offer a service those customers might be satisfied with. It's not an issue limited to the big companies though, apart from Nine Inch Nails (who were hard to miss even had I not already been a fan) I haven't come across any commercial service offering FLAC since allofmp3 died.

May the IFPI and all they represent reap what they sow for what they did to allofmp3. Those guys had more sense about a good product in one pinkie than Virgin Media have in the entire company.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

frostband (970712) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342099)

For it to really work out, I would want at least CD quality lossless compression.

That's the least? You ask for so little...

/sarcasm

Re:Interesting but... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342169)

That's the least? You ask for so little...

It's been, what, 25 years since the CD came out? If digital distribution is to be the new standard, surely we can reasonably expect there to be some improvement in sound quality over the previous technology?

MP3s as a legal download... (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341493)

So when you introduce legal MP3s, does that mean it is now impossible to detect illegal content?
.
You read these stories about police or customs finding pirate content and I wonder what the chances of getting hit with that after just using this service to download MP3s? And if these MP3s contain signatures what is stopping me from altering my existing music library to make it appear legitimate? When everything is an MP3 who is to say what was obtained legally and illegally?
  .
Music publishers won't sign on to an "all you can eat MP3 download service" for the simple reason that it just doesn't make financial sense for them to do so. So what you'll wind up with is a bunch of junk no-name artists for your monthly subscription with a few big names kicking around just for the adverts.
  .
Plus Virigin Media lose any moral high ground they had by dropping people offline, and have also agreed to police their network at whatever that costs to do. I for one will be creating an MD5 hash for every file on my hard disk and asking Virgin Media to stop them being download on their network.

Re:MP3s as a legal download... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341667)

Music publishers won't sign on to an "all you can eat MP3 download service" for the simple reason that it just doesn't make financial sense for them to do so. So what you'll wind up with is a bunch of junk no-name artists for your monthly subscription with a few big names kicking around just for the adverts.

Tell that to Spotify.
3.46 million songs right now.

10 euro per month, or a few audio ads per hour.
They have most of everything, and add on average 10k tracks per day.
From the bigwigs.

Yes, they're technically encrypted downloads, but the actual file data is Vorbis, comparable to 160-192Kbps MP3.

Finally (1)

PhasmatisApparatus (1086395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341497)

Simply punishing file-sharers without offering a reasonable DRM-free alternative is a bad idea. But I don't see a problem with this.

Re:Finally (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341679)

I see the problem with this being something like:

  1. Sign up for service.
  2. Download everything possible.
  3. Service is no longer valuable, terminate service.
  4. Eliminate need for anyone else to sign up by sharing everything downloaded.

The result of, say five people, doing this is the service has zero subscribers six months out and everything they are trying to block is pretty much impossible to block. This differs from the current situation not one tiny little bit.

The only way this is a success is to (a) prevent downloading, not just sharing and (b) make it universal so you can't download stuff on any ISP anywhere. (a) is technically challanging to do, perhaps so challanging as to be impossible. (b) is completely impractical on a worldwide basis.

Doomed from the beginning. It might have an effect, but not for long.

Re:Finally (1)

PhasmatisApparatus (1086395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341767)

I should probably follow this up with a clarification... How do they know who is sharing files legally or illegally? So yes, I do indeed see a problem with this.

What you aren't seeing... (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341505)

Is the law they are crafting that they will call the "RetroActive Pirating Extended Digital Unity" Act. (The RAPEU Act) that will allow copyright holders to get logs of all users who have downloaded music without DRM and force them to pay a media shifting licensing fee of 10 dollars (so that they can have the right to convert the music to CD, MP3 Player etc..) per song.

Head Asplode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341517)

If this had been done 15 years ago... the mind boggles.

I mean really, all I've ever wanted is to just get music as easily as possible, that's all.

The easy way in 1995 was to buy a damn CD, in 2000 it was to pull it from the net via Napster, in 2005 it was torrents. Can it be that finally, after more than a decade I can easily put money into the hands of the people who distribute what I want simply because they've finally figured out that I don't want to be tied to some horrible, controlling remote service (well, beyond the "here's my money, there's your stuff" kinda service)?

Maybe I'm reading far too much into this, but damn did it take this long to figure out?

Educating users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341543)

... will involve implementing a range of different strategies to educate file sharers about online piracy and to raise awareness of legal alternatives...

What makes music companies so high moral that they think they can educate file sharers?
Is ripping off people's pocket's an higher level of morality this days?

What I don't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341549)

Okay, so if we get unlimited DRM-free downloads, how is that more beneficial to the record labels than illegal downloading?

Re:What I don't understand... (2, Insightful)

ChrisMounce (1096567) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341591)

Because money is changing hands?

Re:What I don't understand... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341647)

They get paid for doing what pirates are currently doing for free. They get a reliable stream of income from people who don't shut the service off after downloading everything they want. Universal promotes its catalog, which if it includes current artists may mean additional concert revenues. They keep people in the habit of paying for music, particularly the kids who grew up with music downloads being the norm for obtaining music. They create another avenue of advertisement and promotion for artists that bypasses radio and TV, which have both become stagnant.

It's not that bad of an idea. Will it make as much money as CD sales used to? Not at first...

Has to be said.... (2, Insightful)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341551)

If I had Virgin cable in my area.

1) I'd signup for a month or 2

2) Download everything and anything music related they offer.

3) ???

4) Cancel Subscription

Re:Has to be said.... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341609)

But music changes..... At some point your friends will abandond you, your girlfriend will leave, and you will be left with your outdated collection.

All to save a few bucks. Or pounds. Or whatever.

Re:Has to be said.... (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341671)

Yes, and when your girlfriend leaves, she takes your cds and hifi with her.

Re:Has to be said.... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342253)

Better than taking your beloved son with her.

Sometimes, I wish we would stop and think about what really matters.

Oddly, music doesn't rate high on my priority list.

Re:Has to be said.... (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341663)

The thing is, they've (Virgin at least) figured out that they're getting money if you do that, rather than that other copyrightey-violatey thing that so many people do already.

And you never know, maybe you end up (somehow) enjoying the service enough to keep coming back from time to time.

Re:Has to be said.... (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341745)

That presupposes that the minimum subscription period is a month or two. It may be £40 a month for 12 months, £20 a month for 24 months, £10 a month for 5 years etc.

Re:Has to be said.... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342129)

Sure, but you could do that right now on TPB. What's stopping you?

it will be limited choice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341613)

This will be an attempt to put the frightners on us that our teenage kids are downloading the internet while we sleep, so why not pay us a little bit of protection money and we will leave you alone..

This is Hannamontannization.

Or, you know (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341619)

They could just keep the all-you-can-eat service and skip all the re-education crap.

might be reasonable (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341681)

It sounds like they *are* trying, if the monthly fee is reasonable. If you're going to compete against illegal downloads, you must be at a minimum (a) DRM free and (b) available for a reasonable price. The third requirement is sufficient quality (where hulu still fails), but maybe it'll be ok. This could actually succeed.

Of course, if it is successful, the American music industry will implement their own version, which will be more expensive than CDs, have draconian DRM and be accompanied by punishing enforcement with lots of false positives. But hey, we were always on the forefront of innovation...

Not the law, their rule (2, Interesting)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341697)

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.

By this they really mean they will ban you from their network not because you're breaking the law, but because you're not following their EULA, which would stipulate you may not transfer copyrighted material by other means than their service. (which is completely unrelated to what the law does and doesn't allow)

Transferring copyrighted music on the internet is fair use, not piracy.
By educating people about online piracy, they really mean lying to them to make them believe their rights do not exist.

Re:Not the law, their rule (1)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342015)

Give that this is speaking of the UK, you want fair dealing [wikipedia.org] , not fair use (similar concept, but there is legally no such thing as "fair use" in most Commonwealth countries). Also, transferring copyrighted music on the internet is not fair use or fair dealing. It's illegal and copyright infringement in many countries, except if the music is provided under a copyright licence that allows it (i.e. Creative Commons), or there's some other law that allows it for another reason (such as Canada's tax on recording media).

While you may not agree with how copyright holders are licensing the use of their music or with how broken the copyright system in many countries is (I certainly don't agree with either for the vast majority of cases), it still is illegal in both the UK and USA (among other countries), and not a generic "right" of internet users.

Re:Not the law, their rule (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342277)

I'm not sure blatantly sharing an ENTIRE work constitutes fair use.

Information? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341701)

The UK's Virgin Media could start suspending persistent file sharers on a temporary basis, using allegations provided to it by Universal Music.

Fixed that for your.

I live in England... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341709)

And saw this on the news today. Thought it was absolutely ridiculous. A temporary suspension of the service I'm paying them to fucking provide? I don't think so. People need ISPs, not nannies. These fuckers will never see a penny from me. I'd rather pay over the odds with another ISP as long as it meant they'd keep their noses out of my business. I actually liked the music subscribtion idea, but I like my privacy a little more.

laff.... (1)

koan (80826) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341733)

So now we are down to "all you can download for a monthly fee" and "education for file shares + temporary suspension of ISP services, my my my how diluted has war on filesharing gotten?

Not to long ago they were trying for suing the crap out of you possible time in prison and "3 strikes no more internet for you" and while that's a mixed bag of different countries solutions it's clear that they aren't getting any where so this lean approach is how it's going to be.

I'm amused.

Wow, good scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341739)

Hey, let's have people download music for free, then, we'll turn them over to universal and they'll call piracy and sue for lots of money, and they'll split it with virgin.

GENIUS!

A Wire (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28341857)

Well here we are again, someone else tried this and what was the defence of the pirates? Now we know how much it's worth, stop with the big ass lawsuits.
 
  Essentially Virgin internet provides a wire, for millions of people it is the single most important wire in their lives. Now this wire is being used as a potential punishing tool (parents the world over prevent children from using the net), and for what? Because the user is paying £16-25 a month (Assuming Cell Phone as seperate) instead of £24-38 (Estimated price of music service: £7)?
 
  I think the response of the British People should be clear, pay the £7, once they prove in court you've done something wrong.
 
  Brought to you buy the same people who don't think Ghandhi should have paid for salt.

I'm a Virgin customer... (1)

CorpusKilo (1004161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28341999)

...and am intruiged as to what "the process will not depend on network monitoring or interception of customer traffic by Virgin Media" actually means? Does this mean if Universal suspect me of filesharing, they can pass my IP to Virgin and have me temporarily disconnected? On the plus side, the subscription service... as long as it is appropriately priced... is exactly what I have been looking for in terms of digital music. Provided it truely is DRM-free, and hopefully lossless quality :)

Alternative (3, Informative)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342223)

An alternative for UK surfers:

http://www.ukfsn.org/ [ukfsn.org]

I have no affiliation with them, but...

"all profits from UKFSN go to fund UK Free Software projects"

"Our policy is that the electronic communications of our customers are private. We do not intercept, censor, scan or otherwise interfer with our customers' internet service."

"UKFSN does not and will not have any dealings with Phorm, the company behind the Webwise system being deployed by some other ISPs to intercept customer internet traffic. We are firmly of the opinion that the Phorm Webwise system is illegal under UK and EU laws. We also believe it to be fundamentally unethical to intercept customer traffic in this manner. It will never happen here."

"There is some suggestion that the UK government would like to mandate some form of interception and possibly censorship. We would encourage all interested persons to make it clear to MPs and the government generally that this is not acceptable."

Meterial reduction? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28342225)

In parallel, the two companies will be working together to protect Universal Music's intellectual property and drive a material reduction in the unauthorized distribution of its repertoire across Virgin Media's network

Material reduction? I think they have failed to grasp some fundamentals of online file sharing.

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