If anyone is not already convinced that DRM is bad for the customer after seeing major companies like Google, Yahoo or MSN pull the plug on their DRM servers then Walmart's decision to do the same might convince you finally.
Walmart started selling music back in August 2007. The music was protected by DRM for the first six month after which Walmart decided that the hassle was not worth it. DRM was removed from all songs and users were able to purchase DRM free songs from then on.
The announcement that Walmart would shut down its DRM servers was send by email to all customers who purchased songs protected by DRM from one of the biggest companies in the world. The consequence for the user is dire. It is possible to play the songs on the authorized computer but it will not be possible to burn them or listen to them on a new computer after October 9, the day the servers are shut down.
Walmart is suggesting to burn the music to CD to be able to move them to a new computer. The first thing that is odd about this recommendation is a general observation. DRM was allegedly implemented to prevent the unauthorized copying of protected media. If users are able to burn the media to CD and rip those CDs back to a computer then the system failed miserably. What's the purpose of protecting files with DRM if anyone can bypass it that easily?
The second odd thing about this is that a company like Walmart is seemingly not capable of providing a better solution to their customers. They simply pull the plug and the customers have to see how they can access their purchased music in the future.
Lastly what happens to customers who would like to re-download a song that they have purchased at the music store? Will they be able to download it again DRM free or will Walmart simply state that the song is no longer available? A commenter at the Boing Boing site mentioned that he tried to download songs that he purchased again from Walmart but was not able to do so because they were no longer available.
The only positive aspect is that another company is getting rid of DRM. The feeling remains though that it has more to do with the complexity of DRM and the additional costs of the servers and support than fulfilling customer demand.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.