updated 10:20 pm EDT, Sun September 28, 2008
Wal-Mart done with DRM
Wal-Mart is following the actions of Microsoft, Yahoo and Virgin, shutting down its DRM (Digital Rights Management) servers on October 9. The move will render any Wal-Mart-purchased, copy protected WMA music files inert if not burned to CD prior to the server shutdown. Boing Boing is reporting that Wal-Mart has emailed customers warning them of the impending server shutdown and its effect on their collections.
"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," the message reads. "By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer... Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files."
The email adds that customers will not be able to transfer songs to other computers after the October 9th cut-off or access songs after changing or reinstalling their operating system or in the event of a system crash.
The server shutdown will finish Wal-Mart's transition to completely DRM-free music downloads, which begun in 2007 and was prompted both through lackluster sales of protected music and initiatives by major labels to produce a stronger alternative to iTunes. Universal Music Group chief Doug Morris in particular has complained of Apple's online store as imposing "golden handcuffs" through its popularity, which forces Universal and others to accept Apple's terms for music sales if it intends to remain successful; the company has since deliberately withheld DRM-free music from iTunes while switching to MP3 at several other major stores in a bid to render them iPod-compatible and reduce a dependency on the electronics giant.