back to article eMusic rattles ISPs over legal downloads

The boss of Apple’s iTunes nearest rival eMusic has warned that recent deals struck between the music industry and UK internet providers could threaten the existence of legal sites. eMusic CEO David Pakman told the Financial Times that ISPs could lure customers away from well-known digital music sites by offering their own …


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  1. James Pickett


    “penalise the good guys, not the bad guys”

    Sound very plausible, especially where the US are concerned. Mind you, I can't see the ISP's doing this for free, and eMusic is very good value.

    Anyway, aren't these the same ISP's who were complaining about the BBC's iPlayer eating all their bandwidth?

  2. Dave S


    In other news a bunch of turkeys in Norfolk have launched a campaign saying Christmas dinner is a terrible idea.

  3. Joe K

    *plays the worlds smallest violin*

    If the ISP's give us an all-we-can eat DRM-free music buffet as part of our subscription, like Nokia is doing, would anyone really shed tears if the bottom line of eMusic (who?) and iTunes is hit?


  4. Mike Crawshaw


    "It seems premature in the extreme to be warning of the consequences of something that doesn't even exist."

    No it's not. It's common sense to try and prevent said "danger" that's being warned against from coming to pass. That's the point of a warning.

  5. Paul Talbot


    "We have no plans to inhibit in any way the traffic of other legitimate music or content services, irrespective of whether we eventually offer our own," BT told the FT. BSkyB said: "It seems premature in the extreme to be warning of the consequences of something that doesn't even exist."

    Surely he's not really this dense? If you get a music service included with your ISP, you're less likely to search for an alternative. It's common sense and it's why Microsoft have been constantly in hot water about their bundling of browsers, media players, etc.

    Also, of course it's better to fight these things *before* they exist - how could it be better to wait for the damage before trying to prevent it?

    Oh well, off to use eMusic as I refuse to use DRM-infected shite anyway and Amazon have decided they don't want to sell to me yet...

  6. Mycho Silver badge


    Well, the alternative is to be warning of the consequences as they are happenning. That would be too late.

  7. Andy Worth

    Re:*plays the worlds smallest violin*

    Yes.....the people who work for said companies would. Otherwise, nobody would give a shit.

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    iTunes have a nearest rival?

    Who knew?

    Not that I'm an iTunes fan, oh no, never touched it. But I *have* actually heard of it, unlike eMusic. If he's worried about potential customers going to perceived competitors, there's a solution he's quite obviously never heard of* that's been around for some time. It's called advertising.

    *Well, either that or he's a cheapskate.

  9. Gulfie

    @Joe K

    "would anyone really shed tears if the bottom line of eMusic (who?) and iTunes is hit?"

    Yes. Because if you use any of these services you already know that no one service provider can sell you all music from all record labels. I use iTunes as my main music source but I also use a number of small classical sites which are either (a) significantly cheaper or (b) have recordings I can't obtain from Apple. I also download a lot of podcasts - both video and audio. Will my ISP be providing those too?

    If ISPs turn around and say "it's our service or nowt" then two things will happen. 1. a number of restraint of trade suits from online media sales outlets and 2. as with the Phorm debate, a percentage of people who actively buy music online will resent being dictated terms, and will walk.

    Imagine your local council sending you a letter: "Dear blah blah, yes you pay your council tax and yes we maintain the roads in your area using your money but from now on you can only drive to your closest Tesco for your food shopping. Food shopping from any other shop will result in punative fines and possibly the building of a large wall in front of your house to prevent you driving your car. At all.

    This is all getting very, very silly. ISPs, encouraged by government and the media industry trying to legislate the unlegislatable because copyright owner and ISP business models have not adapted to the changing environment. Rather than trying to grab hold of and control/stymie the situation, companies should evolving.

    I'm not talking about piracy, I'm talking about the legal use of a connection I have paid for, to do legal things such as watch catch-up TV, buy films and listed to or purchase music online. Get with the now, guys.

  10. Mark

    re: WTF?

    Exactly. Which should be said:

    "Look out! A bus is about to hit you!"


    "Look out! A bus has hit you!"


  11. Watashi

    Vertical monoplies, parallel lines

    I get my TV, rent movies, conect to the internet and call people through Virgin. I get a discount by doing all these through one company, and its naive in the extreme to expect that the Virgin will not want to provide favourably priced music and movie downloads to Virgin customers as part of a complete package. Why would Virgin NOT offer discount packages for Virgin subscribers? It ties people in further than they already are.

    I wouldn't be supprised if we see the growth of parallel internet that works in the same way as mobile phone networks. If a Virgin user uses Virgin web services and partner sites, the download rates will be quicker and the data won't get added to their daily download limits. Using non-Virgin sites will be slower and capped at a specific download volume. P2P will be banned, as will access to certain 'illegal' sites (ie 'extreme pr0n' and 'terrorist' sites), but a deal will be done with the government to support BBC TV (as it's a public service).

    Then the EU will step in and things will get very messy, probably ending up with expensive anti-competition legal battles (a la Microsoft IE bundling), fines for the British government and an eventual humiliating political climb-down.

    By this time the UK will have lost Scotland to independence, and anti-EU feeling will lead to the remains of Britain leaving the EU altogether (after all, England alone is not part of the EU) and becoming the 51st state of the US. As the US loves monopolies, those living down south will be burdened with all-powerfull ISPs for the forseeable future.

  12. Tony Paulazzo

    No Title

    >there seems to be a quid pro quo," said Pakman<

    Which is a 'good' thing, isn't it? <confused of Yorkshire>


    Quid pro quo: Something for something - indicates a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services...

    Or am I missing something obvious, like competition is no longer a good thing.

  13. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    Re: All those saying who they are

    Perhaps it's because you've never wanted to listen to music from some different labels, or perhaps you like DRM crippled downloads.

    Myself, I've used them and various other sites as I like the artists to actually get some of the money I've paid and like to be able to music when and how I desire.

  14. Robert Baker

    Pot, kettle, black?

    I'm not surprised at the boss of eMusic getting defensive, as my one experience with them is bad:

    I'm still looking for a good music downloads site. By "good" I mean (1) accessible from the UK (that rules out Amazon Downloads); (2) pay-as-you-go (that rules out eMusic; why should I pay for *not* downloading anything?); and (3) DRM-free, so that if I download on my laptop I can play that music on my desktop, and vice-versa, and can still play the music I've bought when the computer on which I downloaded it dies and is replaced (that rules out Tesco Downloads, with whom I've had numerous problems such as being unable to acquire the licences for two tracks I bought from them).

    Until then, it seems that the only way to go is to buy the CDs and roll my own MP3s, which is what I currently do.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    I loved eMusic and miss it now I'm back to 56k dialup

    Me, I was quite happy with eMusic as an addition to iTunes Store as a venue for music shopping. But ISP Frontier slid that 5GB cap into their Acceptable Use Policy (now claiming it's a guideline, not a cap) and I cancelled my DSL. As a result I also cancelled my eMusic subscription because I know I cannot even download music on a 56k line without having it be a tedious instead of pleasant experience. This choice of mine did cost me some dough since I had an annual subscription at emusic. But what can I say, the thrill of downloading a 4MB music file at 2am on a dialup line wore off a long time ago, before I ever got DSL, actually.

    I plan to mention all this in my letter to the FCC about Frontier's absurdly tiny cap, which might have made sense in 1990 but makes no sense today, certainly not for contracts made, as mine was, for "unlimited high speed access" to the internet. Try as I might, I cannot find where it says access to the internet of yesterday so I was assuming it to be today's internet, silly me. Of course I did not imagine that downloading a few TV series and renting some movies was an abuse of my "unlimited" access. Why would I? This is 2008.

    I am not having fun without DSL but I'll get over it. If I was eMusic, I'd try to sue the pants off Frontier for restraint of trade, actually. They are being cagey but their cap is legally a cap, not a guideline. And forget video transfer in a 5GB cap. That's what I actually got the DSL for to begin with, to buy movies at iTunes Store. Not a happy camper, moi, and there's no other DSL provider here. Time Warner is an alternative around here, but they are talking about small caps too.

    I'm done with broadband until I see fine print I can actually understand and it better not say anything about 5GB a month. Hope Amazon, iTunes Store, eMusic, Netflix wake up and smell that Frontier coffee real soon now.

  16. Robert Baker

    RE: I loved eMusic and miss it now I'm back to 56k dialup

    This raises a perennial question which I've pondered for years; how can any ISP possibly justify offering a so-called "unlimited" service on which they place limits? Does the word "unlimited" have a different meaning in broadband from the one it has in mathematics, or in everyday English? Does the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 not apply to ISPs?

    Alien because ISPs appear not to be on the same planet as the rest of us.

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