Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another DRM switch-off: Wal-Mart wipes record collections

It's not that the music industry and its commerce friends laugh at you when you buy DRM-wrapped music or anything. But they might snigger just a little. Wal-Mart is switching off its DRM servers, reports Boing Boing, rendering all the legally purchased tracks its been selling effectively worthless:

Important Information About Your Digital Music Purchases

We hope you are enjoying the increased music quality/bitrate and the improved usability of Walmart's MP3 music downloads. We began offering MP3s in August 2007 and have offered only DRM (digital rights management) -free MP3s since February 2008. As the final stage of our transition to a full DRM-free MP3 download store, Walmart will be shutting down our digital rights management system that supports protected songs and albums purchased from our site.

If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer. This change does not impact songs or albums purchased after Feb 2008, as those are DRM-free.

Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer.

Thank you for using for music downloads. We are working hard to make our store better than ever and easier to use.

How could you make a store better than one where you pay money in good faith for a product, only to discover that the store can't be arsed to actually allow you to enjoy those goods? Admittedly, you're fine providing you use the same computer for the rest of your life, so it's not all bad.