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Microsoft reverses course on MSN Music DRM

updated 08:30 am EDT, Thu June 19, 2008

MS Extends MSN Music DRM

Microsoft today changed its policy on MSN Music content and extended the lifespan of music bought from the defunct music service. The company has removed its August 31st deadline for shutting down its digital rights management (DRM) servers and now says owners of purchased music from the online store can authorize PCs and portable devices until "at least" late 2011, letting users transfer music to new or reformatted devices for another three years.

The company will reexamine the DRM servers at the end of the period and may extend the deadline again if enough former MSN Music customers still need the authorization service, according to a statement sent out to purchasers. The company nonetheless warns users to make more permanent backups.

The company's original effort has been criticized both for providing little warning to paying customers and for underscoring the inherent risks of using DRM to protect songs. Such locks are frequently dependent on the parent company remaining interested in supporting legacy buyers and carry the potential risk of shutting out customers if the provider either goes out of business or switches formats without offering a fallback.

Microsoft is believed to be steering more customers towards its Zune Marketplace, which effectively replaced MSN Music and the MTV-branded URGE store as the software developer's preferred self-run online music service.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. Grrr

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Jun 2001



    Seriously, who gives a c*** about MSN/Microsoft music on an Apple site!????
    Its time Macnn got some real journalists in.

  1. mgpalma

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2000



    Having a third-party decide on how long you get to listen to the music you payed for is absurd, to say the least. Please MS, can I listen to MY music just a little longer??? DRM sucks, if for no other reason than being dependent on 'someone else' keeping their DRM service running so you can continue to listen to the music you payed for. Really, really lame.

  1. MacScientist

    Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 2000


    re: ZZzzzz

    Grizzled Veteran wrote: Seriously, who gives a c*** about MSN/Microsoft music on an Apple site!???? ...

    That's just it, this is linked from Electronista, MacNN's sister site. I won't argue the point about whether it should be linked, but it should not be.

    That said, I am amused by the line:

    Microsoft is believed to be steering more customers towards its Zune Marketplace ....

    Either it is or it is not. If Electronista doesn't know, then it should have delayed publication of the story until it was certain.

  1. sribe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003


    Microsoft legal woke up

    This would have resulted in a class-action lawsuit, Microsoft would have lost, and in the process there would have been much publicity educating much more of the public about the risks of DRM. In other words, I was sure this would happen.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2002


    Buy CDs

    lossless format, no drm, discourage big brother!

  1. phillymjs

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2000


    Foot, meet bullet.

    These guys are total idiots. They always make these pronouncements, get hammered by bad press, and then end up backpedaling. I keep hoping they'll wise up one day and do the right thing without first antagonizing their customers, but it seems like they never will.

    And seriously, is Microsoft so poor that they can't afford to give these people replacement licenses for their MSN Music songs on the Zune Marketplace, if they want to shut down the MSN Music servers? Maybe give them a discount on the Zune or something?

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2006


    re: ZZzzzz

    I'm glad MacNN links to these stories. I am interested in iTunes (and Apple) competitors, and the larger issues of DRM, etc. I want to read about how other companies handle DRM in comparison to Apple's DRM. If it's not of interest to you, do yourself a favor and don't read the story, and don't waste your time responding to it.

  1. Monde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2004



    Ballmer's greed driven shell of a company has, again, stepped in it. For all these reasons and hundreds more, the iPod business model remains untouched--in any real sense--by the competition.

    The zune and it market place remain the "must not have" personal music system.

  1. dimmer

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Feb 2006



    are not lossless -- anything Analog to Digital can't be. Even Laserdisks are (slightly) lossy.

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