updated 09:30 am EDT, Fri October 10, 2008
Wal-Mart DRM Servers Stay
Wal-Mart issued a last-minute reprieve to customers potentially affected by its DRM server shutdown. Citing feedback from customers, the retailer now says it will keep alive the servers that hand out licenses for its now-obsolete Windows Media protected music rather than close them down. The move had originally been scheduled for Thursday but has been postponed indefinitely; the servers will stay up for "the present time," according to Wal-Mart. This will also include support for any problems with the files themselves.
In spite of the extension, Wal-Mart warns that users should make audio CD versions of any Windows Media songs to preserve them for the future and to allow importing them back in unprotected form. Without the servers, customers reformatting their PCs or who otherwise need to reload their music would be locked out of their existing collections.
The late reversal of the store chain's policy is the third such change from an American company this year following similar plans from MSN Music and Yahoo Music. Both of the earlier examples had originally planned to phase out their older stores in favor of either new outlets or exiting online music sales entirely but, like Wal-Mart, have since backtracked and offered some level of support.
Yahoo so far has been the only one of the three to directly compensate buyers for its switch away from protected music.
Critics have argued that these recent efforts underscore the importance of selling permanent copies of music in an unprotected format to give customers true ownership.