Blown To Bits

Yahoo joins the “strand our DRM customers” game

Saturday, July 26th, 2008 by Hal Abelson

Last April (see MSN Music RIP) I blogged about Microsoft’s decision to shut down the license servers for MSN Music at the end of August, thereby stranding customers who had purchased music tracks governed by MSN Music’s Digital Rights Management. As it turned out, Microsoft reconsidered, and now says that the license servers will operate until at least 2011.

Now Yahoo has joined the DRM customer stranding game with its July 23rd announcement that it will shut down the Yahoo Music Store servers at the end of September. The result will be that anyone who purchased Music Store tracks will be unable to move them to new machines after the deadline. As with Microsoft’s (since retracted) announcement, this is another demonstration that customers don’t really own the music they “purchase” under DRM systems. Instead, they remain dependent on the distributor’s willingness to keep the DRM license servers running: something for which the distributor has given no long-term guarantee.

As Blown to Bits argues, DRM is a bad deal for customers and a bad deal for innovation. It’s also a bad deal for the music distributors themselves, since it obligates them to maintain an ongoing technical infrastructure of license servers. It’s encouraging to see the continuted growth of non-DRM alternatives for music distribution. Now if only Congress would figure out what a bill of goods they’ve been sold by DRM pushers.

One Response to “Yahoo joins the “strand our DRM customers” game”

  1. Blown to Bits » Blog Archive » Signs of a Move Towards Balance? (Part 2 of 2) Says:

    [...] as we previously reported, of Microsoft (April 23, 2008, MSN Music RIP) and Yahoo! (July 26, 2008, Yahoo joins the “strand our DRM customers” game). As of October 9, the hapless purchasers of music tracks from Walmart.com Digital Music, will no [...]