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.