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Music Media Your Rights Online

Virgin Digital To Close Up Shop 207

Posted by kdawson
from the left-from-itunes-and-a-right-from-drm dept.
mrspin writes in to note the demise of the Virgin Digital music store. Here is Virgin's announcement. It will shut down in stages: the service closed its doors to new subscribers on Friday; current subscribers will lose all access to it when their next monthly payment is due or on Oct. 19, whichever comes first. The store advises customers who have purchased downloads to back them up to CD and re-import them as MP3. It used to discourage such DRM-evading tactics.
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Virgin Digital To Close Up Shop

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:40PM (#20736585)
    Well, there's a hole that will need to be filled.
  • Re-import to Mp3? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:41PM (#20736601) Journal
    How about they provide non-DRM mp3 downloads so people can dump their collections before their lost, rather than making more lossy copies?
    • by hhr (909621) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:49PM (#20736687)
      Why on earth would a web site that's closing up do anything to make their customers happy? They will meet their legal obligations and do nothing more.

      It's not like they are afraid of losing customers.
      • by cloricus (691063) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:51PM (#20736705)
        And this is why you simply don't buy DRM content. If the shop you bought from closes up you are in the cold the next time your hdd crashes. DMCA be screwed, pirating is still better.
        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:08PM (#20736833) Homepage
          This is what people don't seem to understand yet. Everyone is happy using iTunes, but what happens when somebody comes out with a portable music player that's better than the iPod, or just as good, but for cheaper? What happens when there's another cool music shop that has better prices, or a better selection? Do you now need 2 programs to manage your music library? What about the 3rd and 4th online music stores? Things have been pretty calm for now, because there's been no major players that have shut down, and you can hook your iPod up to your home stereo, or your car stereo, so there hasn't been too much complaining. But I think that within 5 years most people will start to see the problem with DRMed media. To make a bad car analogy, could you imagine if your car would no longer function, if the dealership you bought it from closed down? Or something less stupid. What if all your CDs purchase from a store stopped working when the store closed down, and that you had to have a separate player for every store you bought CDs from. That's basically where DRM will take us.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by bignetbuy (1105123)
            We understand it -- we just don't care. lol

            No, seriously. Anything bought on iTunes should be ripped to Audio CD anyway for backup purposes. That strips the Fairplay DRM -- and can be re-imported into your music player of choice.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by fatalfury (934087)
              ...with a serious loss to quality. Does that matter to no one? It's not actually the same product once you burn a LOSSY audio file to CD then rip it back into LOSSY again. It's not the same lossy file, it's a lossy file of a lossy file. Big difference!

              A store could never get away with sending you CD-Rs when you ordered DVD-Rs by just saying that its the basically the same thing, one product just has a little more space. So why can music-subscription companies?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Eccles (932)
                I have a few songs purchased from the iTunes store that I burned and re-ripped. I have above-average hearing, but I listen to these MP3s without caring about the quality. At least to this listener, it's not a big difference.
              • Actually no (Score:5, Insightful)

                by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:17PM (#20737297)
                Most people are not serious enough audio listeners to notice any difference between re-ripped stuff and the originals. You have to remember the equipment most people use to listen to music is not that great either.
              • by Yaztromo (655250) <`yaztromo' `at' `mac.com'> on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:17PM (#20737299) Homepage Journal

                ..with a serious loss to quality. Does that matter to no one?

                What, you've never heard of lossless compression [wikipedia.org]?

                Burn lossy file to CD. Re-rip and encode it in a lossless format. The resulting file will sound identical to the original.

                Yaz.

                • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                  by fatalfury (934087)
                  It's still not the same product.

                  Your new lossless (yet still lossy) file is 30mb+. The original product purchased was a lossy audio file with a small file size, probably to be used on an digital audio player, with a storage capacity of let's say 1GB.

                  Not only do I now have a different product, but now I cannot use it in the same way as promised when I purchased it. Going back to my original analogy, now the CD-R's the store sent me are actually mini-discs.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by langelgjm (860756)

                  Burn lossy file to CD. Re-rip and encode it in a lossless format. The resulting file will sound identical to the original.

                  At a significantly increased size compared with the original file. Or, you could avoid all this nonsense with QTFairUse [wikipedia.org] or hymn [wikipedia.org], no?

              • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday September 24, 2007 @10:39PM (#20738389)
                "serious" loss of quality? Hardly. Without debate, MOST people can't tell the difference and slashdot has been littered with stories proving this simple fact. With the white ear buds that come with the iPod in a normal listening environment, there is virtually no perceivable sound quality difference between a downloaded 128kbs that has been ripped to mp3 and the original cd file. Even if you don't believe this, the proof is in the pudding. Seems like a billion downloads speaks volumes about how much people don't care (i.e., can't tell) about the supposed quality issues related to buying iTunes drm songs.
                • Ah, but not everyone uses an iPod or even iPod-quality headphones. I personally use headphones with 20mm titanium diaphragms, and while they are consumer-grade (i.e. non-musician, non-audiophile), they are about the most accurate consumer-grade phones you can buy. The frequency response is 16-20,000Hz, which is both lower and higher than humans can actually hear, and they have a very high (again, for consumer-grade) signal-to-noise ratio. With these headphones I can definitely hear a difference between an m
                • What are you talking about? 128k MP3s sound like crap with the worst headphones you can buy. I'd like to see you do the double-blind test with the iPod headphones and tell me the results, I seriously doubt you won't be able to tell the difference. You probably have never noticed it and thus don't care about it, but when you DO notice it it will haunt you forever, and all your MP3s will be at least 192 (or Vorbis) for everafter.
              • Have you tried it? Because I have, and burning iTS AAC to a CD and then re-ripping it at 128kbps AAC does not result in any noticeable loss in quality, not to my ears anyway. The thing is that audio compression algorithms generally always throw the same things away, meaning that once compressed, a decompression and recompression at the same bitrate will generally not be that different.

                It's not ideal, but honestly it's not a "serious loss in quality" by a long shot. The major issue with the whole burning

            • I don't get it... (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Belial6 (794905)
              I don't get it... If it is so easy, and legal to strip the DRM from music rented from iTunes, you should be twice as pissed as if it you couldn't remove the DRM. They have added hoops for you to jump through for absolutely no reason. If the DRM stripping is legal and simple, then the only possible reason for the DRM in the first place is that Apple hopes that a certain percentage of people will slip up in bypassing the hoops, and have to pay a second or third time for the same product. Either that, or t
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ajehals (947354)
            I say this half jokingly, but we are talking about the same people who replaced their records with tapes, tapes with CD's, video's with DVD's and some of them went through mini disks, laser disks VCD's and betamax too, some people replace their PC's entirely because someone at a PC shop tells them they need X to run the next version of office (according to PC World (UK) a dual core Pentium and 2Gb of RAM are required to "write letters" and browse the web, apparently because there have recently been upgrade
            • by ajs318 (655362)
              Nobody I knew ever replaced records they already had with cassettes; when cassettes became the dominant medium, they just made cassettes from the records and listened to those instead. And they certainly didn't buy CDs of material they already owned on cassette. In fact, the only times I've ever known anyone buy a pre-recorded cassette have been when they were on holiday, didn't have access to a record or CD player, and wanted to listen to something right there and then. Other times, it was a case of buy
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by FLEB (312391)
            That's basically where DRM will take us.

            Google Video and now this? That time has arrived, and the examples are trickling in. At least with Apple, you have rather a "blue chip" company backing your DRM, and one that's receptive enough to its customer base (and one with a large enough post-customer base) that it's unlikely they'd screw 'em all. Still, though, there's the possibility that they (or even the iTMS division) could suddenly tank someday down the road after some executive mishaps.

            Personally, DRM jus
          • What happens when a newer/better/cheaper mp3 player/store comes out? Well, they are five years too late, and people with thousands of cds worth of content will continue using iPods and iTunes. That's just one benefit of being a pioneer. If I keep waiting around for the next iTunes/iPod killer to materialize, I'll never have any new music.
        • by Erris (531066) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:59PM (#20737183) Homepage Journal

          No one wants disappearing music. If it were otherwise, Virgin would not be closing. Not even M$ could sell it and everyone who bought into it is either evil or a fool.

          Fee services are greedy and won't work. According to this BBC story [bbc.co.uk], people spend about $25/year on music. Plans that ask for this amount per month or multiples of it per year are doomed to fail.

          The industry and the law itself has been harmed by the Copyright extremists. Laws that transparently guard the interest of a few at the expense of many have bred contempt. The theft of thousands of people's life savings by bogus prosecutions have only made things worse. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

          • by Shihar (153932) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:22PM (#20737327)

            Fee services are greedy and won't work. According to this BBC story, people spend about $25/year on music. Plans that ask for this amount per month or multiples of it per year are doomed to fail.
            Great, and the average person has one testicle, half a penis, and one tit. I suggest you avoid a career in swimsuit design.

            The subscription services do what they do very well for a certain portion of the music listening audience. If you are the type that would pay $15 / month for access to nearly every single song ever recorded and don't give two shits if you 'own' it or not, subscription services work fine. People who pick subscriptions view music the same way they view the Internet. They want it there, they want access to it all the time, and if one day their service goes under they just go out and get another one. Sure, all your music is 'gone'... except for the fact that you can merrily go and redownload anything your cared about in a day or two's time with a new service. If you are the type of music listener that goes through piles of artists each month and like to listen to anything that might catch your fancy, subscription services are a steal.

            If on the other hand you are the type who has a narrow focus in music, like just a few artists, listen to the same albums over and over, listen to music rarely, or get your rocks off collecting things, than clearly a subscription plan is not for you. Most of the services that offer music subscription services offer both models for the very reason that while the average human has one testicle and one fully developed breast, the average human is not who you are trying to sell to. It makes perfect sense to sell single songs and albums to the type who get off on that sort of thing, and to sell subscription plans to those who get off on that.

            For me personally, the subscription works very well. My interest in music is far too casual to justify researching music before I buy it. My tastes wander too quickly, and they are far too fickle. I don't often listen to musicians more than a few times, and I enjoy the exploration of different genera and artists far more than I enjoy listening to a few tried and trued favorites. For me, a music subscription works wonderfully. I get full access to any song I could want to listen to, and I nothing about downloading something and listening to it because I have already paid a flat rate.

            If the only option out there was iTunes style pay-per-download, I probably would not bother buying music at all. I might be the minority, but Rhapsody is getting my buck while iTunes isn't simply because they offer it and iTunes doesn't.

            The DRM issue is a whole different can of worms. Access controls on subscription services make sense. Access controls that can be killed for things you pay a buck per pop for is just downright stupid. You are a moron if you pay for DRMed single shot music. The whole point of BUYING the music instead of just subscribing to it is the assurance that your collection will always be there.

            Personally, I think you take your chances when you buy DRMed music with the expectation of keeping it forever. iTunes, Virgin, Rhapsody... whoever, if they DRM the music, than they ultimately have control of that music. If you are paying for control of that music, you damn well should make sure you actually have it.
        • by jmorris42 (1458) *
          > If the shop you bought from closes up you are in the cold the next time your hdd crashes.
          > DMCA be screwed, pirating is still better.

          Exactly. DRM means 'your' content is only yours until the place you bought it from goes out of business or decides your content is 'obsolete'. Does anyone actually believe iTunes will exist in its current form in twenty or thirty years? Will Apple? How many technology companies live to see their tenth birthday? Apple will be truly ancient in thirty years, Steve wi
          • Well, I've been an Apple customer for 19 years, so I don't see why I should worry about the next 20, especially considering the last 5 have kicked ass.
        • by grahammm (9083) *
          So maybe there should be some consumer legislation introduced which states that if a company 'sells' media (online or physical) which requires access to an online 'validation' system in order to be used, that the validation system must be kept available (with minimum downtime) for at least a minimum period (say 5 years) after the purchase of the media. This would provide a balance to the US DCMA and other similar legislation being introduced elsewhere.
      • Looks to me like they're switching their service to one that has better DRM.

        We are happy to be able to offer you a 1-month free subscription to the Virgin Media digital streaming jukebox and this link will be available from next week.

        Streaming jukebox application with Trusted Computing technology anyone?
        • by ajs318 (655362)
          Beh. Easy one! You build a USB gadget that pretends as though it's a USB external sound card (shouldn't be too hard; there are Linux drivers for USB audio devices, so just work against that Source Code.) Except instead of playing any sounds, your gadget just stores the (decrypted and decompressed) data somewhere. Plug it in and tell your computer to use the new "USB external sound card" that the spiffy wizard just discovered. Play songs. Recover data later.

          It ought even to be possible to recompre
      • They probably are legally required to provide permanent copies of the music or provide all customers with refunds, but I'm sure it will take a lawsuit to make them comply.
  • by Kashra (1109287) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:42PM (#20736615) Homepage
    I haven't used Virgin's store, so I'm not familiar with the license that users signed. But isn't it reasonable to expect that Virgin has to provide a more direct method for users that have paid for their downloaded content to obtain a permanent copy of it? "Burn it to CD and rip it back" seems arduous and probably not even feasible for the level of computer literacy they should expect from their clients.

    Would such an argument even hold up in court?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      IANAL, but chances are it wouldn't need to. Behind all the pages of EULAs the users didn't read was certainly a statement disclaiming any guarantee that the tracks will work at some future date. If it's anything like Napster's subscription service then they're no longer paying the monthly fees to access them anyway.
      • Half the stuff written in EULAs is just wishful thinking. Most countries have consumer protection laws that trump EULAs.

        If the law says that Virgin cannot intentionally sell people a defective product, then they can't simply shut off this service. They need to provide their customers with refunds.
    • by garcia (6573)
      Would such an argument even hold up in court?

      While I don't know what the terms of the license agreement was, I have a feeling that the blood suckers made sure that if the service ever ended that Virgin Digital would not be legally obligated to do anything to refund the subscribers/customers or fix their more-broken-than-before files.

      My suggestion? Don't buy into any RIAA shit and if you must make sure it's DRM free. You're seriously better off paying $2.00 more to buy the CD.
      • by thsths (31372)
        > While I don't know what the terms of the license agreement was, I have a feeling that the blood suckers made sure that if the service ever ended that Virgin Digital would not be legally obligated to do anything to refund the subscribers/customers or fix their more-broken-than-before files.

        Well, you would have thought so, but I cannot find an early termination clause in http://www.virgindigital.co.uk/footer/termsandconditions.htm [virgindigital.co.uk] that would work without any wrongdoing of the customer. Of course there is
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CodeBuster (516420)
      probably not even feasible for the level of computer literacy they should expect from their clients.

      So Joe Sixpack finally gets burned by DRM and realizes what we on Slashdot have been railing against all this time. Personally, I hope that there are more incidents with other music stores where the unsuspecting public gets burned by DRM. Perhaps then they will take the time to learn what DRM is and why it is a bad thing for them to be spending their money on. If enough average people get bitten by the DR
      • The only problem is that Joe Sixpack doesn't know that Slashdot exists, or that we on it have been railing against DRM all this time. Nor do they realize what DRM is, or that there are alternatives. To them, when they get screwed by DRM, "it just doesn't work" and they move on the next source of DRM'd music, 'cause maybe it will work.

        It's still pretty impressive how little most people understand about the technology that they use. It really might as well be magic.
      • by slittle (4150)
        No, Joe Sixpack will simply realise that competition is a loser's game and he should just stick to buying from the established monopoly.
      • by irtza (893217)
        if enough people figure out what DRM is, the content providers will change the name and declare DRM dead.
  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:42PM (#20736623) Journal
    Okay.

    So they have this huge stockpile of music, and they're incapable of simply posting it and running a credit-card outsourced solution?

    The artists get the 8 cents per sale, right? So the rest pays for ... the gigantic building?

  • Sony did the Same (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Datasage (214357)
    Sony Connect store did the same, but they were switching from a propriety format to something based on windows media.

    Even they recommended the burn to CD and re-rip method, but the problem with that is the horrible loss of quality. The downloaded tracks are already lossy encoded. The lost data is not recreated by burning it to CD. And you will be ripping it back into a lossy format, from a source thats already lossy.

    In my opinion, they should make available a tool that strips the DRM but leave the audio dat
  • Funny how it works (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:45PM (#20736641)
    Most companies I've encountered that DRM their content claim that if they ever go out of business that they'll keep their activation servers going, transfer the activation to a third party, or better yet, release a key/patch to permanently "free" the content.

    Never seems to happen, though.
    • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:54PM (#20737147) Homepage
      It sure didn't happen with the $300 worth of DRMed, encrypted content I purchased for my GemStar eBook.

      That content is keyed to a hardware serial number in my own, personal eBook device.

      The servers were shut down, the customer service people who could have enabled the content to work on a different eBook device are gone, but it doesn't matter anyway because there are no follow-on devices that use that encryption scheme.

      No provision was made for freeing the content, there's no equivalent of "burning to CD and re-RIPping), and when my vintage 2000 eBook--which has started to act funny--finally dies, all the content I purchased dies with it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        It sure didn't happen with the $300 worth of DRMed, encrypted content I rented for my GemStar eBook.
        Fixed that for ya.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by micpp (818596)
      I know of one case where a failed DRM distribution system did not result in everyone losing their stuff. You may be aware that the PC game Prey was originally released on a content delivery service known as Triton, who went out of business several months after the release. So the developers of the game sent a proper retail copy of the game to everyone who'd purchased it on Triton.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ajs318 (655362)

      Most companies I've encountered that DRM their content claim that if they ever go out of business that they'll keep their activation servers going, transfer the activation to a third party, or better yet, release a key/patch to permanently "free" the content.

      How about writing to your Elected Representative -- citing this as an example -- and asking that this sort of thing be made law? If and when the DRM-infested media company go out of business, they must make some provision for customers who have purcha

  • Lawsuits brewing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:47PM (#20736663)
    If anyone runs into authorization problems for those songs, especially on the computer where they were originally purchased. "Pay money to buy a song and we may revoke your access at some unspecified, arbitrary short time" is not a valid contract term. Going CD-RW -> MP3 route is not a solution since the company previously claimed that it would be illegal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Call me a hopeless optimistic, but maybe it will finally sink in with the Powers That Be that DRM is a silly technology?
    • NewYorkCountryLawyer For The Win!!

      Please tell me one of those Counsel types discovered the galaxy sized loophole in "Let's recommend a form of copying that my business agency is suing people for using".

  • by Urusai (865560) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:49PM (#20736689)
    This is why software/content as a service is bollocks.
    • I used to think that "software as a service" meant using F/OSS (like PHP) and giving service to it (which is a perfectly valid business model). When I learned the true meaning, I realized it's nothing more than "renting software" with another name. It's much worse when it's "renting software AND storage for your data" :-/
    • On the contrary... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:15PM (#20736891) Journal
      While it does mean you lose those particular tracks, the mentality I keep hearing from people I would expect to know better is, in a world where everyone has enough bandwidth to stream radio 24/7, nobody cares that you've lost your music collection.

      You just switch to a different, competing service, and re-download everything.

      The guy I had this conversation with reasoned it like this: If you're going legit, this is the cheapest way. You lose the ability to have stuff work on an iPod, but he had something else anyway. Everything he wanted to do with it, the DRM software let him do -- except play it on Linux, which he didn't want anyway (partly because it didn't work on Linux -- chicken and egg).

      And the economics of it: He calculated that he'd have to subscribe to this service for 15 years straight before he'd be spending more than it would cost to buy the stuff outright on iTunes or CD. And that was just counting songs he'd already downladed -- obviously, in 15 years, he'd be downloading a lot more stuff.

      Me, I'm not willing to give up my freedom like that, and stuff just has to work on Linux. Besides, I listen to a lot of Internet radio. But content as a service really isn't a problem. Software as a service, maybe, because you have your own data attached to it, but music? Who are we kidding?
      • What, does that guy listen to like the same 100 songs on rotation? I don't see how it could possibly to be economical to download a several thousand album music collection over and over again. Nevermind that no one digital music store is going to necessarily even have half of such a collection in its libraries.

        I guess whatever works for him. But I still can't see this as feasable for anyone remotely *interested* in music, and I'm not even talking about audiophiles. Just people who care about music inste
        • What, does that guy listen to like the same 100 songs on rotation?

          Erm... 100 songs wouldn't be enough to be economical. Do the math before you run your mouth.

          I don't see how it could possibly to be economical to download a several thousand album music collection over and over again.

          Simple: Download them on demand (they'll stream). You probably weren't using the bandwidth anyway -- for streaming them, it's miniscule.

          Nevermind that no one digital music store is going to necessarily even have half of such

  • by QJimbo (779370) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:51PM (#20736695)
    The possibility of the company going out of business is regularly cited as a reason against DRM, because it leaves your purchases worthless.

    This is an example of it happening in reality.

    People are going to have to either waste CD-R's or loose quality by reencoding them to another lossy format... really abismal.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:04PM (#20736805)
    I don't get it. Why can't they just make available a program that strips their DRM from the music files, and let their subscribers download and use said program? This would be much easier than burning and ripping. Plus, you don't lose any more quality than you already have.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ddcc (946751)
      Most likely because they have some sort of a contract with the big labels that forces them to include DRM.
    • by kocsonya (141716)
      > I don't get it. Why can't they just make available a program that strips
      > their DRM from the music files, and let their subscribers download and use
      > said program?

      DMCA, maybe? The content is not theirs and if their deal with the music mill is such that they must DRM, then such a program would be a full-fledged open violation of the DMCA, not to mention that it is THEFT, PIRACY, TERRORISM and you have to THINK OF THE INNOCENT CHILDREN!
  • by richardtoohey (457098) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:07PM (#20736825)
    With the ENTER VIGIN DIGITAL (sic) text on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Clunky, complicated, hideous to look at and use websites. Payment methods just asking to be abused, or designed to turn away the many people who choose life without credit cards.

    Just try and purchase, say, a CD or book online. Direct bank funds transfer? Nope. Gotta be a credit card. Then try and actually use a credit card at a site like Think Geek, where they ask you to supply digital photos of your drivers licences, a recent bill, etc.

    For those of us in (very) rural locations, the choice is either give up
    • by wikinerd (809585)

      Then try and actually use a credit card at a site like Think Geek, where they ask you to supply digital photos of your drivers licences, a recent bill, etc.

      Giving a CC is already dangerous, so emailing or faxing an identity document along with it is unacceptable. I do not buy from such shops, and if I have to then I choose a non-CC payment option if they provide any (here in Europe they often do, eg you can just order online and then let them come to your home and you pay them in cash at the door, while some others just call you on the phone the other day to ask you to confirm your name, CC number, address, etc, while I have also seen shops that do charge y

  • by Flipao (903929)
    Those who claim DRM is nothing but the "lock to your door" or "the alarm in your" car are going to have a hard time trying justify their business model when things like this end up happening...
  • The summary says that customers will be able to download music "until October 19th or the time their next payment comes due, whichever comes first." The article itself (Yes, I really did RTFM) says:


    "If you are a current Club member you will be able to continue using the service until the date that your next payment is due, after which the service will no longer be accessible to you."


    Nothing about it stopping before your subscription runs out.

  • by illectro (697914) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:30PM (#20736993)
    Apple seem to be the only people who've managed a paid digital music store with any success. eMusic [emusic.com] has been going forever without any real traction, Napster [napster.com] continues to lose money, meanwhile you can get free, legal major label music from places like imeem.com [imeem.com] which is all ad supported.
    • *cough* (Score:5, Informative)

      by msimm (580077) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:14PM (#20737263) Homepage
      eMusic no traction? They are the second largest [cnn.com] digital music retailer. The #1 largest DRM-free retailer and probably the only major digital retailer with (recently updated) Linux support. It's a great resource for slightly older music or anything even remotely off the beaten path (my main interest).

      • I have to say that with the size of iTunes customer base, I would think that currently Apple is actually the largest DRM free music store in terms of percent sold going forward... but I can't find any figures to say one way or the other.

        Basically though it's just great to see the number of DRM free options growing!

        • And with other resources (Bleep [bleep.com], Fintunes [finetunes.net], Inertia [inertia-music.com], etc) I find my music selection keeps expanding horizontally (and DRM free).
          • And also www.magnatunes.com [magnatunes.com] - they let you choose how much you pay, which is pretty cool.
            • by grahammm (9083) *

              And also www.magnatunes.com [magnatunes.com] - they let you choose how much you pay, which is pretty cool.
              And the artist gets half of whatever you pay, which is considerable more than almost every other distribution mechanism (except maybe where you buy directly from an artist who writes and produces their own works)
    • by Buran (150348)
      "eMusic [emusic.com] has been going forever without any real traction"

      If they offered music that more people had actually heard of, that might change. Yes, it's great to discover new music, but people also want what's already familiar, and eMusic isn't offering that. They've got half of the equation, but that's not enough for them to really take off.
  • Damn... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lelitsch (31136) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:36PM (#20737045)
    I was sure this Virgin Store was an iTunes killer. Differential pricing, backed by a major record label, subscription and purchase options, not restricted to an iPod.

    ------------------
    Those who don't understand sarcasm are doomed to misread it.
    • Time and again we have seen that if there is any choice at all, people don't want subscriptons where they pay to access some nebulous "service". They want something they can keep, even if it's a virtual "something".

      People also dislike differental pricing as it usually ends up being "differential" the wrong way.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:49PM (#20737131) Homepage
    Just what is it about the iTunes Store that's so hard to grasp? Put up a store that sells a huge selection of music at half-decent prices with halfway-tolerable DRM, and the world beats a path to your door.

    Put up a store that rents a limited selection of music at lousy prices and heavy-handed DRM, and the world yawns. That business model has now been tried at least a dozen times and has failed every single time.

    There are other kinds of products for which a manufacturer would refuse to sell through the only store that's successfully sold that product, and instead sets up its own store--but music is the only product for which they set up stores that emulate, not the successful store, but the unsuccessful stores.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Just what is it about the iTunes Store that's so hard to grasp? Put up a store that sells a huge selection of music at half-decent prices with halfway-tolerable DRM, and the world beats a path to your door.

      Put up a store that rents a limited selection of music at lousy prices and heavy-handed DRM, and the world yawns. That business model has now been tried at least a dozen times and has failed every single time.


      How is Apple any better? If they turn belly up you're not going to be able to reauthorize your t
      • Reauthorize my iTunes songs? What in the world are you talking about? You don't authorize iTunes songs, you authorize up to 5 computers to play them. The songs play on any number of iPods, however, and they burn to disc for forever if you like. I'm not sure what alternate reality you live in, but the iTunes store isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

        So there, that's how Apple is any better?

      • How is Apple any better? If they turn belly up you're not going to be able to reauthorize your tunes either.

        You only need to authorize your iTunes purchases if you reinstall them or try to use them on a different machine.

        If Apple crashed and burned, I'd just export the music I bought from iTunes to MP3 and then reimport it. Yes, it'd suck 'cause I have a couple of hundred of 'em and I'd lose some fidelity that I may or may not be able to hear, but it's by no means the end of the world.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You only need to authorize your iTunes purchases if you reinstall them or try to use them on a different machine.

          That's going to happen sooner or later - no OS install lasts forever.

          If Apple crashed and burned, I'd just export the music I bought from iTunes to MP3 and then reimport it.

          Errr? That's exactly what Virgin's suggesting their customers do.

          For an old time geek, you're pretty gullible.
        • by Buran (150348)
          "If Apple crashed and burned, I'd just export the music I bought from iTunes to MP3 and then reimport it."

          However would you do that? iTunes won't do it with protected tracks. If you did, though, iTunes can play MP3s without any trouble so no re-conversion would be needed.
    • Just what is it about the iTunes Store that's so hard to grasp? Put up a store that sells a huge selection of music at half-decent prices with halfway-tolerable DRM, and the world beats a path to your door.
      You are missing a crucial factor. Apple is the only supplier that can sell DRM encumbered music that works with the worlds most popular portable music player. They also sell the only portable music player that works with the worlds most popular online music store.

      The net result is that once someone has bo
  • This is the reason I won't rent music. I don't know much about their model, but the risk that my music "landlord" will got out of business, leaving me in the lurch, is why I won't rent music.
  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:07PM (#20737227) Homepage Journal

    Do they really say users should rip to MP3? All I'm seeing are suggestions that you back up your collection since you won't be able to re-download them. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

    The real question is how are the tracks locked to a given purchaser? If you need to authenticate to some Virgin Digital service when you, say, move to a new computer, then there is a problem.

  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Monday September 24, 2007 @09:07PM (#20737641)
    of a company failing to replicate Apple's success with DRM-managed downloads. There's only one MS Office, there's only one iPod. Deal with it. Apple's learned how to play nice with MS Office, when will other media download site learn the same (painful) lesson that you ignore the iPod only at your own peril?

    Any (legal) media company that doesn't take the iPod into account is doomed to failure or at least irrelevance. The only one to succeed and flourish in a post-iPod world is eMusic, and that's because you can play songs from there on a your iPod or Zune (shudder) or whatever.

    Wal-Mart is opening up their DRM, so is Amazon. NBC, however, is still clueless.
    • by theurge14 (820596)
      Apple's learned how to play nice with MS Office,

      I would say so. Excel, the oldest app in Office, was a Mac application a full two years before there was a Windows version. ;)
    • when will other media download site learn the same (painful) lesson that you ignore the iPod only at your own peril?
      When will the rest of the major record companies learn that by requiring DRM on online sales they have essentially handed apple a virtual monopoly on online music sale? (iirc a couple have but most haven't)

      A service trying to compete with iTunes can't offer ipod compatible DRM music without apples cooperation and they can't offer non DRM music without the record companies cooperation. This mea
  • "I bought the song with DRM from Virgin, and then they went out of business. I am just exercising my license to have one copy after the first one got lost in a freak lightning storm." What's that? Now it was a copy and not a license? Great to hear!
  • It's simple. Don't rent music. It's so cheap and easy, that even a minor geek can keep a permanent music collection. It's simple:

    1. Throw two or three (or more for the paranoid) cheap 500 GB hard drives in an old thrift store quality PC. Install FreeNas [freenas.org].
    2. Buy CD's used and cheap.
    3. Rip to FLAC.
    4. Set up Freenas to mirror, or backup occasionally.

    Bammo! Dirt cheap, very permanent, perfect music library! Because you're smart and used FLAC, you can always burn a perfect copy of any CD you'd like f
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:47PM (#20738897)

    Near the top: [virgindigital.co.uk]

    The terms and conditions below apply to you if you use any of the Virgin Digital service (as more particularly set out in paragraph 5 and the Virgin Digital Player which is the software platform from which subscribers operate the services), the terms and conditions also governs the use of the Website itself....

    Your use of this Website, the Virgin Digital Player and the Virgin Digital service are subject to these terms and conditions. By using this Website, the Virgin Digital Player and/or any of the Virgin Digital service, you acknowledge your consent to them.

    Virgin reserves the right at its sole discretion, to change, modify, add or remove any part(s) of these terms and conditions without notice. It is important (and your responsibility) to check these terms and conditions periodically for any changes. Changes will be posted here. Your continued use of the Website or the Virgin Digital Player or the Virgin Digital service following the posting of any changes will constitute your acceptance of the changes.

    And further down...:

    4. SERVICE LICENCES
    The following sets out the licences which Virgin is granting you in order to use the Virgin Digital service as set out in Paragraph 5 below.

    4.1 Content Licence
    Virgin grants you a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable licence ("Content Licence") to download or stream digital music content ("Content") to your personal computer or Portable Device (as defined in paragraph 5 below and subject to your rights under these terms and conditions) solely for your personal non-commercial use. You shall not (without limitation) copy, reproduce, "rip", distribute or use the Content in any other manner, save as permitted by these terms and conditions.

    And further down yet:

    5. SERVICE DESCRIPTION AND USAGE

    ...

    5.1.3 "Purchased Download" A Track downloaded to the hard drive of your computer which can either be burned to a CD or transferred to a portable device subject to the following usage rules: (a) Purchased Downloads may be transferred to portable devices, which shall mean a hardware device with software (including embedded software) ("Portable Device") which enables you to export Permitted Downloads from a personal computer for play back on a Portable Device in accordance with the provisions of these terms and conditions. (b) You can make up to seven (7) burns per individual playlist (i.e. your chosen selection of Tracks in one (1) particular order). (c) You can transfer any single Purchased Download to up to five (5) secure portable devices up to twenty-five (25) times. PLEASE NOTE that any attempt to circumvent any controls that we have in place to prevent additional burning and/or transfers outside of your permitted rights will be a breach of these terms and conditions and may result in the immediate termination of your Virgin Account and may also subject you to civil and/or criminal liability.

    And finally...:

    15.3 In the event of a direct conflict or inconsistency between these terms and conditions and privacy policy and other terms and conditions that may be applicable to the Website or the Services these terms and conditions shall prevail to the extent that such conflict relates to your use of the Services and/or Website.

    15.4 The failure of Virgin to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these terms and conditions will not constitute a waiver of such right or provision.

    Emphasis mine

    So basically, Virgin can tell you whatever the hell you want to hear, with regards to how to handle the music you've downloaded. The only caveat is that it's non-binding and that the terms in their "Terms and Conditions" section hold up in court.

  • by smoker2 (750216) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @02:48AM (#20739985) Homepage Journal
    To all those posters pontificating on the reason this business has failed, you should know that Virgin has just sold its Megastores in a management buyout.
    Maybe the new owners of all things musical in Virgin don't see any profit in maintaining the online music store ?
    And even if the online store was to remain outside of the buyout, Virgin Media have been making moves towards being a *big* media company for some time now (broadband, cable tv, mobile & landline telephony). Maybe there is no room for online music sales in that future. Control the infrastructure, let others worry about the consumables.

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