Virgin Media and Universal Music have announced a subscription service offering unlimited legal music downloads to Virgin Media broadband subscribers.
Virgin Media and Universal Music said the service will allow music lovers to stream and download as many music tracks and albums as they want from the entire Universal Music catalogue in return for a monthly subscription fee.
Subscribers will be able to download music to keep permanently and to store on any MP3 compatible device. The scheme would also allow an “entry level” offer where subscribers received unlimited streaming of music but a limited number of downloads.
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The service, for use by Virgin Media broadband customers, will allow one subscription per household and would not specify restrictions on the type of device on which the music was played.
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Virgin Media said it was currently negotiating with other UK major and independent music labels and publishers to expand the service further in time for the launch of the service later this year.
It added that it will be working with Universal Music to educate users to warn about the dangers of illegally downloading music and raise awareness about legal alternatives.
The agreement comes after an International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) report in January which found that digital music was booming but estimating that 95% of music downloads were still illegal.
Branson: ‘World first’ for Virgin
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group, said: ‘I’m thrilled to see Virgin back where it belongs at the heart of music and, once again, breaking the mould. Virgin Media’s agreement with Universal is a world first and lays the ground for a truly unique service when it launches later this year.’
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, which represents the UK recorded music business, said: ‘It is very encouraging to see an internet service provider and a record label working together as creative partners.
‘At the same time, the fact that Virgin Media will apply a graduated response system to tackle persistent illegal downloaders demonstrates that graduated response is a proportionate and workable way forward.
‘We hope the Government will support this positive move by announcing prompt and robust measures to deal with online piracy in its Digital Britain report this week.’
© 2009 Press Association
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