Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A large sum of money having to be handed over by an unauthorised downloader to a record label isn't new - but there's a twist: the Virginmega music chain has been fined for illegal downloading.

The French chain and online store (owned by Lagardere rather than the British company) ignored an exclusive contract between Warners and France Telecom, downloaded Hung Up by Madonna, stripped out the copy protection and flung the new files up for sale on its own website.

France Telecom's Herve Payan told the International Herald Tribune: "This is an amazing case of simple piracy by a respected company.

"Virgin behaved in a surreal manner by downloading the song, cracking protection measures and then selling it from their own web site."

Virgin, for their part, said they were doing it for the kids:

The judgement "confirmed the need to do everything to help build a balanced market for legal downloads", the firm said.

The group, and fellow French retailer Fnac, have recently attacked record firms for releasing top selling singles to mobile and internet firms under exclusive deals.

Virign have been fined 600,000 euro (about £414,000) for their actions. We wonder if anyone explained to them that what they were doing was like stealing, um, CDs from their own store. Or something.

What's fascinating, though, is that the music industry haven't refused to supply any more music to Virgin for its online or street stores - surely if they're that serious about illegal uploading, the industry should be prepared to make its actions follow its highly strung language. They think nothing of breaking the financial backs of postmen and single-parent families in the projects, but when it'd actually cost them something to take the moral high-ground, they fall strangely silent.

Come on, IFPI - you're constantly telling us that it's criminal to make illegal uploads available; here, a company have done it for financial gain. Why are you still letting a criminal organisation make money from your products at all?

[Thanks to Donald S for the story]