Not Now, At Least Not Yet: Virgin Scraps Legal P2P Plan…

The hopeful buzz at Midem was that labels and ISPs would eventually legitimize P2P, or at least jointly launch feels-like-free services.

But a non-starter at the UK-based Virgin Media demonstrates the trickiness of delivering on such propositions.  Over the weekend, multiple sources – specifically the Register and paidContent – noted that Virgin has now scrapped plans to create a legitimized file-swapping environment, based on irreconcilable label demands.

Digging deeper, the plan itself appeared rather flimsy from the start.  The concept involved PlayLouder MSP, a company that trumpeted an ISP-contained, P2P offering last summer.  Virgin was the flirting party, though the restrictions – coupled with what appears to be spotty licensing buy-in – helped to submerge the plan.  “The project is off and the project team is stood down,” PlayLouder MSP strategy director Paul Sanders told paidContent UK.

The differences allegedly boiled down to protection, and limitations on track usage.  Virgin appeared ready to green-light a service that would essentially monetize P2P, and remunerate rights holders accordingly.  Whether the plan was ever feasible from a licensing standpoint remains unclear, simply because a structure that involves all rights holders – across publishing and recordings – remains extremely difficult to arrange.