Virgin, Universal to offer unlimited MP3 downloads

Filling up an iPod with tracks from the iTunes Store may set you back 30 grand, but traditional subscription services essentially cost infinity dollars if you want to keep all your music. What's a cheapskate to do?

In a surprising move, two entertainment giants, Virgin and Universal, have partnered up to offer an unlimited, subscription-based MP3 download service. According to the Associated Press, the scheme will let users "stream and download as many songs and albums as they like from Universal's catalog for a fee."

This service will become available later this year to subscribers of Virgin's broadband Internet service in the United Kingdom. Virgin hasn't released prices, but the AP talks of an "entry level" offer for users who "download music regularly, but may not want an unlimited service." Record firms other than Universal may eventually join up, too.

Both Virgin and Universal expect the move to curb piracy among Virgin broadband users. However, Virgin also plans to suspend Internet access temporarily for "repeat offenders" who continue to pirate content.

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