Universal To Give Away Unlimited MP3s Via UK ISP

With 95 percent of the world’s music downloads still estimated to be illegal, the world’s biggest music label is pushing the nuclear-option button. Universal, which has already been offering its catalog through all-you-can-eat DRM’ed services, is now offering the whole thing for MP3 download through an upcoming new unlimited-music package from UK ISP Virgin Media.

eMusic already offers a limited number of mostly indie MP3s via monthly subscription, while other truly-unlimited monthly services tend to come with DRM locks. Like eMusic, Virgin’s entry-level option will only offer a few monthly downloads, but the full service will offer unlimited unprotected downloads and streaming each month. The monthly fee will be less than the cost of two albums, we understand – in effect, Universal is massively marking down the cost of its repertoire (at least to heavy users) in order to regain revenue from the majority, illegal music consumption.

But there will be a carrot-and-stick approach – acting before the UK government tells ISPs how they should tackle piracy on Tuesday, Virgin said its new offering will be accompanied by a range of measures against illegal file-sharers. That will include writing warning letters to downloaders, leading to