Posted by: reformedmusings | September 28, 2008

DRM victims take another hit

I wrote earlier about the Tragic comedy of Digital Rights Management. Well, it just became funnier in a tragic way. In addition to Yahoo! and MSM shutting down their DRM servers, stranding users who paid for copy-protected music, now Wal-Mart has joined that growing list of vendors. That also means that their customers have now joined the ranks of those customers who now have to learn how to circumvent the copy protection on their purchases just to continue using them. In this case, burning them to a CD will work. Then you can rip them to MP3s or whatever else you want. On the good side, new Wal-Mart customers won’t have to worry about it, since new purchases will be DRM-free as they should have been all along.

UPDATE: This just gets better and better. Apparently, this exact same thing happened a year ago to folks who bought videos of baseball games from the MLB. MLB’s response was that there’s nothing they can do and that the videos were one-time sales with no refund. No one who bought videos in the old DRM format can play them anymore unless they somehow strip the DRM from them (Google/Yahoo! is your friend!)

I was blessed to learn my lesson early and relatively cheaply. My cable setup came with Rhapsody music service. I could listen to (stream) 25 free songs/month, but had to purchase stuff to keep it locally. I didn’t know that they’d be plagued by DRM, so I bit and bought an album. That was the immediate start of a nightmare. I couldn’t download the album. I called customer support, and they said that it might take a day or two if the server was busy. It took over 24 hours over broadband to get the music. Then when I tried to copy them to my PDA, I found out about the DRM restrictions. That was the last trip I ever made to Rhapsody, or any other DRM-plagued music site.

Bottom line is that if you want to keep that on which you spent your hard-earned money, better steer clear of DRM-laced downloads. I’m waiting for the big iTunes scandal that’s inevitably coming. And I know that it’s coming eventually, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow morning. You’ll regret it just like in Casablanca…”Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”

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