Gold'en Rant : Virgin DMC shows the door to subscribers

Today is something of a red letter - and probably red mist - day for subscribers of the Virgin Digital Music Club, since the monthly subscription service is formally ceasing operations.

The service - launched two years ago by the Bearded One - offered online punters the change to download music files protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management) software. Unconfirmed reports suggest that subscribers have downloaded around two million music tracks.

The service formally closed at the end of September, when subscriptions stopped being payable. The service completely closes for business today, Friday 19th of October.

The bad news is that, as the service closes today, the DRM-protected music files that subscribers have downloaded, cease to be playable too.

Let me put that another way - you've paid to download the files and play them, but as the service has closed, you can no longer play them.

This is a bit like buying CDs from your local music store and, if that store closes, the manager calls at your house to ask for the CDs back.

I think I can guess what you'd say to the music store manager, but with the Bearded One's online music service, you have no choice - as David Walliams says on Little Britain: "Computer Says No."

This isn't the first time that a DRM-based online music service has closed its doors, but it is the first time that customers have effectively been barred from playing their paid-for music.

Subscribers officially have no comeback, as Virgin claims that punters should have read the small print.

There will, I predict, be a bit of a furore over this service closure but Virgin has done itself - and the image of DRM-based music - absolutely no favours in the way it's handled the closure.

If I were a subscriber of the service, I'd be on to my lawyer faster than you could say: "your balloon is deflating Mr Branson."