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Wal-Mart Ends DRM Support

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the enjoy-your-rights dept.

Music 231

An anonymous reader writes "So, you thought you did well to support the fledgling music industry by purchasing your tracks legally from the Wal-Mart store? Well, forget about moving these tracks to a new PC! Since they started selling DRM-free tracks last year, there's no money to be made in maintaining the DRM support systems, and in fact, support is being shut down. Make sure you circumvent the restrictions by burning the tracks to an old-fashioned CD before Wal-mart 'will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from Walmart.com.' Support ends October 9th."

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231 comments

refund (5, Interesting)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177869)

I don't know Wallyworld's terms of service, but are the customers within their rights to demand refunds?

Re:refund (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177915)

They can demand all they want. Doesn't mean they will get it. Also this is yet another reason why DRM is evil. There is no money in continuing to maintain the DRM servers once you stop selling music. Once whoever you buy from decides to stop support, you are out of luck. This is the third service that I have heard of shutting down. I'm sure more will come in the future. I'm not sure how long it will take for people to realize just how bad DRM is.

Re:refund (5, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178111)

They can demand all they want. Doesn't mean they will get it.

You ignored my question in favor of going on a rant.

Obviously, they have the right to say what they want. I was asking if their demands are supported by law. Perhaps under an implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for purpose. Also, the TOS could have terms relating directly to the shutdown of the service.

Re:refund (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178281)

He did answer it really. You can ask all you want but you can be damm sure that the walmart lawyers have already thought of this.

In a license or eula SOMEWHERE is a clause that lets wallyworld get away with this without giving refunds.

Really. one of the worlds biggest corporations vs. a bunch of suckers who downloaded DRM music. Who do you really think is going to get the short end of the stick? I mean really...

Re:refund (2, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178495)

I don't know if its a coincidence or not, but I had some well connected friends at Yahoo relay my message of an impending class action lawsuit in light of them shutting down their drm servers. Shortly there after they announced that you could get the same tracks from other services with out drm for free. Sadly, I never bought anything from walmart nor do I know anyone there. But if you have been burned I suggest you look into it. It won't end up helping you recoup many losses, but I think a successful class action lawsuit against drm would cause other potential users of it very weary. I used to be one of the biggest defenders of DRM'd music here on slashdot. Then yahoo schooled me in its stupidity. I'm simply not going to use anything that has DRM on it ( exception made for dvd's as they are easily converted to a drm less format).

Re:refund (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178661)

Most likely Walmart music is only warrantied to work for 90 days, after which time Walmart is no longer required to "fix" it when it stops working...... similar to how Walmart is not required to replace my old 1990s-era cassettes if they happen to tear in half.

I have not bought any DRM'd music yet, but if I had, I would keep those legally-purchased copies & download "backup" copies off bittorrent. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that we are allowed to have backup copies as long as we have the original purchased song (or video or game or whatever).

.

Re:refund (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178791)

I think the real problem with walmart, is it didn't have enough customers to qualify any pending lawsuit as a class action;), But yeah, I would do the same thing. The use of DRM will increase the apparent piracy of media as people turn to non legit sources for back ups of their legit purchases that no longer work due to drm.

Re:refund (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177921)

If you can't get money back on those tracks, there are a lot of ways to abuse their returns policy. My friend bought some games from Gamestop when they were running a really good, 2 for $40 sale on nearly new games and returned one of them to Wal Mart for a $40 gift card. Even if you don't like the store, you can at least get your cold cereal with a gift card.

Re:refund (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178057)

So the moral of the story is that if you are willing to commit fraud you can get free cereal.

Re:refund (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178621)

To play devil's advocate: committing fraud may be a moral action in this case, assuming that Walmart is itself immoral.

Re:refund (2)

MooUK (905450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178651)

A second wrong may seem justified, but it does not make a right.

Morality is, of course, completely relative.

Re:refund (4, Interesting)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178759)

Sometimes in order to catch a thief, you have to use the tactics of a thief (deception, buying black market goods, and using weapons). Example: Dish Network sold me a digital tuner box which was so poorly-programmed, it barely worked. A few months later Dish released v1.06 with all the bugs removed, and since my warranty was still good, I asked to exchange boxes.

Dish refused saying they had no record of me as a customer. They lost the sale! Idiots. So since Dish effectively defrauded me, I decided to borrow a page from the same book. (1) I bought a brand-new revision v.106 box. (2) When the package arrived, I swapped the tuners and returned my defective v1.00 box. (3) I contacted my credit card company, explained the situation, and provided proof the item was returned to Dish. (4) The credit company reversed the charge. (5) It costs me about 5 dollars in postage, but at least now I have a working digital tuner.

Dish tried to scam me via selling a defective box, and failed. And now Walmart's trying to do the same thing; if necessary I would find a way to recover the money. Perhaps the credit card company could reverse the charge for this now-broken DRM and worthless Walmart music. If not there are other ways your credit card could help you recover the money you lost.

Re:refund (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178379)

Returning merchandise to a retailer the goods were not purchased from is unethical. That doesn't leave one much room to criticize Wal Mart for their ethics. This behavior shouldn't be supported or proposed as a reasonable course of action.

DRM can be fought without resorting to thievery.

Re:refund (2, Interesting)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178003)

Wal-mart for all its problems is pretty liberal with its return policy. My guess is that if you could talk to someone who even knew they sold music online they would either a) give you a refund or b) give you the tracks again DRM-free.

Re:refund (4, Insightful)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178265)

Have to agree with this.

Walmart has very customer friendly return policies in their bricks-and-mortar stores.

The stores are pits, and the actual customer service sucks (I've stood at the pickup desk for a half hour just waiting for someone to show up and get my web order) but when you need to return something, they're very, very good about it.

Got some ugly crap for Christmas from your mother who, somehow, doesn't understand the concept of "gift receipts" and just says "if you don't like it, I got it at...." instead like it's still 1982?

If they can scan that particular piece of ugly crap and identify it as something they might have sold her, they'll give you back the current sale price on a gift card, so you can go buy juice and cereal. No hassles.

Target, on the other hand, are a bunch of bastards with crazy rules like "we'll take it, but you have to find something else to buy from the same department."

Re:refund (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178515)

Walmart has very customer friendly return policies in their bricks-and-mortar stores.

BS. I bought a package of baby diapers in our local store before going to a conference in another city. I managed to buy the wrong size, so we went to exchange them at a Wal-Mart in that town. I was civil and polite from the very beginning. The difference in price was $0.07, but they absolutely positively would not exchange them without my driver's license. This resulted in one of the very rare occasions where escalation to a few well-chosen f-bombs to the manager got them to cooperate. Now, keep in mind that I wasn't asking for a refund or anything else even possibly fraudulent. I was giving them an unopened package of baby diapers (of all things) in exchange for a similarly-priced package of the same brand. If I were a thief, I would have just stolen the right size in the first place, and in any event it was an even swap.

No, Wal-Mart is not always customer-friendly.

Target, on the other hand, are a bunch of bastards with crazy rules like "we'll take it, but you have to find something else to buy from the same department."

I've had the opposite experience. I bought an LED flashlight at Target that broke in the "on" position and melted down. When I returned it (having already lost the receipt), they offered my money back before I even brought it up.

Re:refund (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178775)

I've experienced the exact opposite before, just like the other person who posted a reply to you.

I think it has more to do with the type of neighborhood a particular store is located in.

WalMart stores around here tend to mostly be in neighborhoods bordering on higher-crime areas. People are constantly trying to return things to them that weren't bought there to begin with, or maybe were shoplifted from them earlier in the day.

When you have a legitimate return, you're made to feel like a criminal yourself, until you prove otherwise. I had one pair of jeans to return one time, and the clerk spent several minutes looking over every inch of them to make sure nothing was torn, stained or slightly damaged in any way. After all THAT, she still called over someone from that dept. to make sure it was a pair they currently stocked, and to verify the price on my receipt was still correct (no sales running currently or anything that might mean I'd get back more than what they were selling them for that day). Pain in the butt....
 

Re:refund (4, Interesting)

Techguy666 (759128) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178177)

I don't know Wallyworld's terms of service, but are the customers within their rights to demand refunds?

I suspect it depends on whether they use the term "purchase" anywhere on the eula or site...

Re:refund (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178361)

A better choice would be to sue Walmart (and all other DRM providers that shut down. Since they "sold" you a song, if they remove the ability to listen to it, then there was a fraudulent transaction (i.e. they represented it as a sale, but it was not a true sale).

This would be a very interesting court batter with profound implications for the industry.

Re:refund (2, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178783)

I would be amazed if they refuse to give refunds. Think about it - Walmart has deep pockets, they are still selling music (and still seeking to make a profit off it), and they don't have a monopoly on music.

Pissing off past customers isn't exactly good business practice, and (I hate to admit it) Walmart is actually run by very skilled businessmen.

In Massachusetts? (4, Interesting)

Alex Pennace (27488) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177885)

I wonder if this would count as an unfair and deceptive practice as described in Massachusetts G.L. 93A.

Re:In Massachusetts? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178503)

Unless WalMart freely offers non-DRM replacements or a full refund, it should be treated as a massive number of petty thefts.

It's really no different than selling someone a single, then stealing it back from them.

Re:In Massachusetts? (1)

crenshawsgc (1228894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178529)

Should be treated as a massive number of petty thefts? Calling this action "petty theft" is absurd.

Re:In Massachusetts? (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178671)

Taking a single you'd bought from you could be classed as petty theft. Hence the grandparent's point.

DRM is dead (1)

batray (257663) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177895)

This is why DRM is dead and should never return

Re:DRM is dead (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177987)

DRM Collector: Bring out yer dead.
Wal-Mart: Here's one.
DRM Collector: That'll be seventy-nine cents.
DRM'ed WMA File: I'm not dead.
DRM Collector: What?
Wal-Mart: Nothing. There's your seventy-nine cents.
DRM'ed WMA File: I'm not dead!
DRM Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
Wal-Mart: Yes he is.
DRM'ed WMA File: I'm not!
DRM Collector: He isn't.
Wal-Mart: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
DRM'ed WMA File: I'm getting better.
Wal-Mart: No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment.
DRM Collector: Well, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
DRM'ed WMA File: I don't want to go on the cart.
Wal-Mart: Oh, don't be such a baby.
DRM Collector: I can't take him.
DRM'ed WMA File: I feel fine.
Wal-Mart: Oh, do me a favor.
The Dead Collector: I can't.
Wal-Mart: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
DRM Collector: I promised I'd be at the Robinsons'. They've lost nine thousand music files today.
Wal-Mart: Well, when's your next round?
DRM Collector: Thursday.
DRM'ed WMA File: I think I'll go for a walk.
Wal-Mart: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Isn't there anything you could do?
DRM'ed WMA File: I feel happy! I feel happy!
[the DRM Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the DRM'ed WMA File with his a whack of his club]
Wal-Mart: Ah, thank you very much.
DRM Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Wal-Mart: Right.

Re:DRM is dead (2, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178029)

I don't see iTunes and FairPlay going anywhere anytime soon. Hell, even after their spat earlier in the year when NBC moved to Amazon after Apple said no to their pricing scheme is now back on iTunes. But then again, I've said Apple got it right years ago. Offers some kind of production the media companies want, yet once I download it, I am free do whatever I want, like burning to CD's, installing and playing on a number of PC's/MP3 players, etc. without a lot of hassles. In the end, consumers don't mind DRM so long as it is reasonable.

Obtrusive Draconian DRM designed to make you pay for every device you want to listen on, etc.. Yeah, that idea is pretty much dead.

Re:DRM is dead (4, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178075)

I only bumped into FairPlay two times.

The first is when I tried to move a DRM'ed AAC file to an old Win98SE laptop (so I simply went and got the same tune as an MP3 file from P2P, since I had already paid for the tune).

The second is when I tried to play a rented movie from another computer. Turns out, you can't watch the movie from another computer, it has to be on the one you rented the movie from (even if the other computer is in your list of 5 allowed computers). I could have moved the movie to my AppleTV or my iPod touch, but I needed to watch it on my laptop. It's annoying that rented movies don't have the same limitations as purchased ones.

Re:DRM is dead (1, Interesting)

Graff (532189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178123)

I don't see iTunes and FairPlay going anywhere anytime soon. Hell, even after their spat earlier in the year when NBC moved to Amazon after Apple said no to their pricing scheme is now back on iTunes. But then again, I've said Apple got it right years ago. Offers some kind of production the media companies want, yet once I download it, I am free do whatever I want, like burning to CD's, installing and playing on a number of PC's/MP3 players, etc. without a lot of hassles. In the end, consumers don't mind DRM so long as it is reasonable.

True but that being said, I'm glad that Apple is pushing the music companies for DRM-free music. iTunes Plus is a great thing, you get higher quality, DRM-free music for about the same price as the lower quality, DRM music. Apple even has a way for you to convert your old music to iTunes Plus so you don't have to worry about the old DRM stuff.

Now if they can only get all of the music companies on board so all of my songs could be DRM-free then I'd truly be happy. Until then I'll buy DRM-free stuff from iTunes and buy and rip CDs for the rest. Then again maybe I'll just altogether skip the companies that don't support iTunes Plus in the first place...

Re:DRM is dead (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178369)

Apple even has a way for you to convert your old music to iTunes Plus so you don't have to worry about the old DRM stuff.

For a substantial fee, of course.

Re:DRM is dead (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178275)

While I agree that fairplay is likely to be around for a fair while yet, it isn't all that structurally different from the DRM used in this case. Subscription service WMDRM phones home frequently, so a shutdown of the activation servers will actively hose you within 30 days or so; but ordinary "purchased" WMDRM tracks are playable for the life of activated machines, as with fairplay. If fairplay activation servers went down, you'd be exactly as hosed as the people in TFA(which is to say, as soon as you need to activate a new device).

A change. (5, Insightful)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177899)

An interesting change in the wind. Suddenly, DRM is not just bad for consumers but good for re-sellers, where the cost of pissing off your clientele has to be weighed vs the cost of producing DRM-laden product, but aside from being utterly useless it actually harms the company directly by costing it money.

This is something that companies will listen to- and quickly. I suspect that this begins the downward spiral of heavy-handed DRM.

At least, I hope so...

HAHAHA tag? (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177901)

A lot of people said it, long ago. DRM won't work for this very reason (and many others) and now those who were legal, and honest, and bought DRM'd content have to suffer AGAIN. It's not just Wal-Mart, how many other content providers also shut down, or screwed their customers by dropping or changing the DRM.

Me? I'm still sitting back, waiting for the industry to calm down and pull their heads out. Punishing the customer won't stop the criminals, never will. Now that the US Dollar is about to be worth ... next to nothing, they will have to kiss customer's asses to get them to spend money. We'll see how this all plays out. Even the DOJ doesn't like the **AA's game plan. It's falling apart on them. Wal-Mart is NOT a small retailer. This is a large nail in the coffin that DRM will be put to rest in.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (3, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178049)

People are STILL buying DRM tracks?? At this point I don't blame the retailers, but the consumer. Amazon has been selling DRM free tracks for a long time now, and they're usually cheaper to boot!

iTunes (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178187)

I suspect the sale of DRMed music still exceeds the sale of non-DRMed music, thanks to Apple. I don't have any figures to back that up, but they have a huge market share.

Re:iTunes (1)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178261)

As far as Apple's concerned they still want to do iTunes Plus for everything. I'm still a little baffled that most of the music labels still aren't giving up on this. At this point it is still solely about the labels wanting to do what they can to prop up other music stores like Amazon's MP3 store, which has certainly established itself. You'd think at this point they'd go ahead and say that they've made their point and succeeded in helping to make another music store successful, and go ahead and let Apple sell DRM-free stuff for everything that they let Amazon/etc. sell.

As it is, since Apple's iTunes Plus is still in AAC format, it shouldn't be such a big deal since the AAC format is not as supported with other devices/players as MP3, so Amazon's MP3 store would still have an advantage over iTunes.

Re:iTunes (3, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178479)

I suspect the sale of DRMed music still exceeds the sale of non-DRMed music, thanks to the music label's insistence on Apple DRM'ing their music.

There, fixed that for ya. It's all up to the music labels. The only reason Amazon can sell DRM-free music is because the labels let them. And they don't let Apple, because they want Amazon to emerge as a competitor. Once distribution becomes a commodity again, the labels (who have a monopoly over the content) can jack prices back up. Right now it's Apple vs. the labels keeping prices in check. When the labels induce Amazon's success, it will be the consumers against the labels directly... and we know who will win then.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (2, Interesting)

princessproton (1362559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178217)

People are STILL buying DRM tracks?? At this point I don't blame the retailers, but the consumer. Amazon has been selling DRM free tracks for a long time now, and they're usually cheaper to boot!

Sometimes there's really no other choice. I have about 15 Wal-Mart DRM tracks because it was the ONLY place I could find those particular songs/arrangements. For less popular genres (choral, instrumental, karaoke, etc.) it can often be difficult to find viable alternatives since they are often too rare to download and not offered DRM-free anywhere else.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178321)

Sometimes there's really no other choice. I have about 15 Wal-Mart DRM tracks because it was the ONLY place I could find those particular songs/arrangements. For less popular genres (choral, instrumental, karaoke, etc.) it can often be difficult to find viable alternatives since they are often too rare to download and not offered DRM-free anywhere else.

I see where you're coming from. When I run into tracks like that (usually it's some form of classical) I just buy the CD. IMHO, buying single tracks is generally most helpful when it comes to 'pop' music.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (1)

princessproton (1362559) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178403)

True. I obviously prefer to go the CD route if at all possible. However, I've found when searching for specific karaoke/instrumental arrangements (Broadway tunes or more obscure choral arrangements), they can be extremely difficult to find at all, so my purchasing options are extremely limited, often with no full CD available. Wal-Mart was one of the few places that had a decent selection of these types of tracks (available only for download). So the choice then becomes how badly do I want it? Is a DRM purchase really worth it? For a few it is, but then we're back to the original problem when things like this go down. Still, as inconvenient as it is for me, I don't mind because it's still a step in the right direction.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178273)

Amazon's store, last time I checked, was US-only. iTunes covers a large percentage of the connected world, and there are still a lot of things that are on iTunes but not iTunes Plus.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178063)

A lot of people said it, long ago. DRM won't work for this very reason

As arrogant and elitist as this sounds (and indeed may be) it has been my experience that well-educated and logically-minded people (a class that is a bit overrepresented on slashdot) tend to have a higher success rate than others when making this kind of prediction.

Ideas that are doomed to failure may not appear to be so at the outset...but people with well-cultivated brains are much more likely to see the absurdity before others.

And it just so happens that the smarties are in the minority.

So geeks in general will frequently find themselves saying "I told you so" on issues like this, and probably lamenting the fact that their society continues to ignore their predictions on similar issues.

They will never learn....if they could, they would already be geeks...

Re:HAHAHA tag? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178095)

Damn, that did kind of sound elitist. Anyone with ideas on how to educate the general population? I'm in the group that is lamenting societies ability to ignore people who do understand. Worse, I also lament about political figures who ignore good advice on purpose. No wonder people drink!

Re:HAHAHA tag? (5, Insightful)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178175)

Anyone with ideas on how to educate the general population [on DRM]?

Shut down the Wal-Mart DRM servers.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (0, Offtopic)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178181)

Somebody should mod that funny

Re:HAHAHA tag? (0, Offtopic)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178197)

Funny? Dammit, it's informative!
:-)

Re:HAHAHA tag? (0, Offtopic)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178225)

+3 funny
+3 informative
+3 True but sad
+3 Good idea
---
+12 good comment

bit harsh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178291)

with the Offtopic mods. Hit us fast and hard, seems to be more moderation than posting at the moment.

Re:HAHAHA tag? (2, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178329)

Punishing the customer won't stop the criminals, never will.

That should read "Punishing the customer will increase the criminals' numbers, always will."

Re:HAHAHA tag? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178639)

What might happen is the RIAA becomes the key holder. They are invested into keeping the servers alive to keep people buying the 'music' and might just step up to keep in control.

Sort of like how Microsoft holds the 'keys' even tho you buy their products from a reseller.

I want it to go away as much as anyone, but i am not naive enough to think this is the end. This is just a minor skirmish in a much longer war.

Almost had to re-buy all of their music... (5, Interesting)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 5 years ago | (#25177903)

My sister (who is obsessed with music) bought hundreds of dollars worth of music from Wal-Mart's music downloading service. Recently, her MP3 player started acting strange and refused to play any DRM songs, so I had to reformat the whole MP3 player and resync all of her music to it. (There was also serious filesystem corruption)

If Wal-Mart had ended their DRM support yesterday...

Re:Almost had to re-buy all of their music... (2, Insightful)

astrosmash (3561) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178053)

Most of the music people acquire falls out of fashion after a few short years. Nonetheless, it's always a good idea to backup your favorite music, regardless of the format in which it was purchased. Luckily, these days it has never been easier to do just that; there's really no excuse not to.

Re:Almost had to re-buy all of their music... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178289)

Most of the music people acquire falls out of fashion after a few short years.

Is this really true? I have no idea, so I'd be interested in seeing some percentages, but I have bought very little music that I don't still listen to regularly. Do most people really spend money on music that they are only going to listen to a few times? If so, it would explain why so many turn to piracy - an album doesn't seem too expensive when you think that you'll listen to it a few hundred times over the years, but if you're only going to listen to it a few dozen then it's pretty extortionate.

Re:Almost had to re-buy all of their music... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178559)

It is true. The problem is, you won't know which of the tracks you bought now you will still listen to 5 years down the line.

Think that's true of only stuff from the last decade? What about all those other acts from the 60s that didn't make it big (eg: the vast majority of them). Surely someone must have bought their albums...

Re:Almost had to re-buy all of their music... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178319)

What you meant to say.. Most of the music produced today falls out of fashion after a few short years...

And even if she had a backup, but had to restore it to her new PC, the files/backup themselves would be worthless. Since she cant get a new license for the music on the new PC.

But the point is a backup would have been useless (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178609)

Nonetheless, it's always a good idea to backup your favorite music, regardless of the format in which it was purchased.

No it's not.

Not in this case.

For you see, when he went to re-load the backed up music it would re-contact the Walmart DRM server looking for authorization... A server which no longer exists.

So What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25177953)

just change the file header

Won't someone think of the marketers? (1, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178005)

Incidents like this, as well as the general pain in the backside factor, mean that customers loathe and despise DRM.

But the marketers know their major label affiliated clients insist on DRM.

So what do they do? Lie. Sony and Nokia [today.com], MySpace [yahoo.com] - all advertised as "DRM-free" and never mind the little detail of being nothing of the sort!

Don't you have truth in advertising laws there or something?

Re:Won't someone think of the marketers? (1)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178271)

I don't think the MySpace thing is a lie - if you actually buy your music, it is done through the Amazon MP3 store, which is certainly DRM-free. The thing with MySpace Music is that you can also stream any music for free (with ads/etc.) but you can't download it, but you're also not paying for it, so it's not really a big deal. The buying part is Amazon MP3.

Vote of no confidence (5, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178067)

DRM cannot be trusted. DRM retailers cannot be trusted to keep up the support. This is why people should never buy DRM.

Unexpected (5, Interesting)

Minervine (1068270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178071)

Having purchased a DRM track from Wal-Mart a long time ago to try out the service, I received an e-mail recently from them about the service shutdown. Interestingly enough, they provided this advice to users:

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. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer.

I didn't expect them to okay users to resort to the analog-hole, something that many companies and legislators have been trying to stop for years. Will other DRM services be this forgiving when they shut down their servers?

Re:Unexpected (3, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178145)

The WMA DRM protection system can explicitly allow or disallow users to burn CD audio from the encrypted files. It's not necessarily using the analog output, which would obviously have to be redigitized, resulting in further quality loss.

Also, they can't really stop the "analog hole" until they implant DRM-laden microchips in our ears, and forcibly encode all the world's audio sources. Or ban all consumer microphones and recording devices.

Re:Unexpected (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178151)

How is re-encoding your .wmvs to .wav and then laying down that info on a CD in ANY WAY using the 'analog-hole'?

Re:Unexpected (1)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178249)

because you're playing the DRM'd music through your soundcard and capturing the output of the soundcard back to a digital file

digital (DRM'd WMA) -> decrypt & decode -> analogue (waveform) -> digital (WAV) -> digital (mp3 / ogg / whatever)

Re:Unexpected (1)

callmetheraven (711291) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178277)

because you're playing the DRM'd music through your soundcard and capturing the output of the soundcard back to a digital file

Not necessary. I've recoded Wallyworld wmv's directly to mp3's. The only downside was that the ID3 tag info had to be plugged in manually.

Re:Unexpected (2, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178807)

Unless you have some sort of analog computer of which I am unaware, that waveform exists in memory as a digital representation. There would only be analog involved if, for some reason, you couldn't decode the WMA and had to play it back through the line-out of your sound card to another recording device.

DRM Escrow (5, Interesting)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178173)

Companies that sell or license products with the built in DRM time bomb should have to put the keys to that product into a software escrow. The escrow acts as a kind of insurance against the company going out of business or to discontinue the service. This approach has been used by large companies for years to ensure the source code for the expensive new core system they bought from a start up would be around if the start up should fail. This will probably take some kind of government regulation to make it happen because individual consumers are too small to push this through. Anyone want to start such a service? It would probably just involve parking some servers in a data center with 2 or 3 spares in the box and maintaining them for 20 years. We can call it The National Museum of DRM Failure.

Re:DRM Escrow (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178707)

Or, we could just refuse to support DRM in *any* way, and watch it die a lingering, painful death.

Your suggestion is perfectly reasonably from a technical standpoint, but it grants DRM legitimacy in the consumer mind. I don't mean to be insensitive to individual's plights, but... painful lessons tend to be the best-learned lessons. If people realize that DRM'ed music is essentially held hostage by the sellers, and is therefore riskier to buy, than ultimately that's a good thing for moving things in a better direction - that is, sales of DRM-free digital products.

Can you say 'Sounds like Shit?' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178595)

Nothing like taking a compressed song dumping to cd and then re-compressing it. Can you say "Sounds Like Shit"?

Why not replace the DRM'ed songs with non-DRM'ed? (5, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178109)

I don't understand why they don't do the obvious--replace all customers' DRM'ed songs with the equivalent non-DRM'ed copy. Customers have their same tracks, WallyWorld doesn't have to maintain their DRM servers.

Oh, wait....the RIAA won't get to double-dip customers if that happens. Now I see.

Two Words: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178147)

Licensing agreement.

Re:Two Words: (1)

sp332 (781207) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178409)

If they really can't get "permission" from the RIAA (I know they're big, but I bet they still don't want to go up against Wal-Mart!), someone from the inside should leak the DRM authentication key.

And EA wonders... (5, Informative)

Sniper511 (1350103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178113)

...why we have a problem with their newest DRM model.

(Yes, I'm aware they claim they'll release a patch before they turn off the servers, but if they go bankrupt tomorrow and can't PAY anyone to develop said patch, then what?)

Re:And EA wonders... (3, Informative)

Nobody Real (266597) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178371)

if they go bankrupt tomorrow and can't PAY anyone to develop said patch, then what? Just use the patch the pirates have been using since before the game was officially released.

Another one bites the dust (5, Informative)

fsterman (519061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178143)

Why isn't there a tracker page at Defective By Design [defectivebydesign.org] for how many of these DRM services have died? Google's video, Yahoo's music service, MSN Music, MTV, MLB.tv, CSS, etc?

Re:Another one bites the dust (1)

hannson (1369413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178577)

I wonder what the ratio of good-will:maintaining-DRM-servers is for these huge corporation... really how much can a drm-server cost in maintenance compared to the PR mess for corporations like Google and Yahoo when they shut down the DRM servers

DRM's limited lifetime (2, Interesting)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178153)

"But that's never going to happen to [DRM service X]. The company behind [DRM service X] is just too big and profitable!"

Funny no? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178335)

I always laugh when people pretend like DRM (be it music, movies, or software) doesn't prevent (any) piracy whatsoever. Of course it does! Nobody is sharing protected files in massive quantities because nobody else can play them! While games are usually cracked withing a few days, look on torrent and warez sites and notice how 90% of people downloading the software can't get it to work. While computer-literate people have an easier time with pirating software, the AVERAGE person is easily deterred by even simple DRM. I'm currently fixing a laptop for a friend, and I can tell that someone tried to install a pirated copy of Windows XP because, lo and behold, the setup was never completed: they didn't have a serial key and couldn't find one that worked.

Yet its true that at the same time corporations and companies are alienating loyal and honest customers with poorly planned and executed DRM tactics. Not only are they hurting their loyal customer base, potential customers are of course deterred and "turned off" by reports and word of mouth when DRM like that which shipped with Spore and Crysis Warhead is publicized.

What the world needs to realize (not just the music industry - the game industry, movie industry, anybody who makes an electronic product) is that it is impossible to prevent bootlegging and piracy. Of course, this has been discussed thoroughly, but the interesting fact remains that nobody comes up with a solution! Only complaints against the current model.

It would be interesting to create a music store where customers could purchase songs and stream them from anywhere. If you wanted to download them you could, albeit with some form of DRM. If the corporation or business were ever to fail, they'd charge a nominal fee to each customer, according to their collection, to burn and send discs with their previously purchased tracks on them, with customers choosing between raw audio discs or flac/mp3 format discs.

I guess the fact people now have to face is, due to technology, the face of everything in the world is changing. The music industry, for example, is no longer a guaranteed get-rich occupation (lets skip the semantics and technicalities and consider the more famous "artists"). One can no longer makes millions and millions off of tapes or CDs. In some ways its sad, in others its an advantage to the customer.

Yet still people press for "better content quality" which is ironic on a computer geek website because as a computer scientist one should well know that you can't please everyone at the same time (thus you get bloatware, with hundreds of features that you might not use, but someone somewhere does). Same applies to something like music.

I really feel its an unanswerable question, at least at the moment. There is no real solution. The only solutions people discuss at this point are "DRM, but alienate customers" and "Nothing, and let piracy grow".

We, as intelligent beings (especially those in computer science), have to acknowledge the fact that piracy IS rampant in todays society, ESPECIALLY among those who know something about computers. Regardless if you do it or not, its a fact that many tech geeks out there do. Out of everyone I know personally only a few have a legit copy of Windows itself, let alone things like music, games, software, and movies.

So eh. What can you do?

Funny no? (1)

genw3st (1373507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178343)

I always laugh when people pretend like DRM (be it music, movies, or software) doesn't prevent (any) piracy whatsoever. Of course it does! Nobody is sharing protected files in massive quantities because nobody else can play them! While games are usually cracked withing a few days, look on torrent and warez sites and notice how 90% of people downloading the software can't get it to work. While computer-literate people have an easier time with pirating software, the AVERAGE person is easily deterred by even simple DRM. I'm currently fixing a laptop for a friend, and I can tell that someone tried to install a pirated copy of Windows XP because, lo and behold, the setup was never completed: they didn't have a serial key and couldn't find one that worked. Yet its true that at the same time corporations and companies are alienating loyal and honest customers with poorly planned and executed DRM tactics. Not only are they hurting their loyal customer base, potential customers are of course deterred and "turned off" by reports and word of mouth when DRM like that which shipped with Spore and Crysis Warhead is publicized. What the world needs to realize (not just the music industry - the game industry, movie industry, anybody who makes an electronic product) is that it is impossible to prevent bootlegging and piracy. Of course, this has been discussed thoroughly, but the interesting fact remains that nobody comes up with a solution! Only complaints against the current model. It would be interesting to create a music store where customers could purchase songs and stream them from anywhere. If you wanted to download them you could, albeit with some form of DRM. If the corporation or business were ever to fail, they'd charge a nominal fee to each customer, according to their collection, to burn and send discs with their previously purchased tracks on them, with customers choosing between raw audio discs or flac/mp3 format discs. I guess the fact people now have to face is, due to technology, the face of everything in the world is changing. The music industry, for example, is no longer a guaranteed get-rich occupation (lets skip the semantics and technicalities and consider the more famous "artists"). One can no longer makes millions and millions off of tapes or CDs. In some ways its sad, in others its an advantage to the customer. Yet still people press for "better content quality" which is ironic on a computer geek website because as a computer scientist one should well know that you can't please everyone at the same time (thus you get bloatware, with hundreds of features that you might not use, but someone somewhere does). Same applies to something like music. I really feel its an unanswerable question, at least at the moment. There is no real solution. The only solutions people discuss at this point are "DRM, but alienate customers" and "Nothing, and let piracy grow". We, as intelligent beings (especially those in computer science), have to acknowledge the fact that piracy IS rampant in todays society, ESPECIALLY among those who know something about computers. Regardless if you do it or not, its a fact that many tech geeks out there do. Out of everyone I know personally only a few have a legit copy of Windows itself, let alone things like music, games, software, and movies. So eh. What can you do?

...an "old-fashioned CD"? (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178349)

OK, I officially feel old. I mean yeah, CDs are very 1980s (I'm thinking about migrating my mp3 collection to Ogg Vorbis someday), but still...

support isn't free (5, Insightful)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178365)

This is just an expected downfall to DRM. Why sell something you'd have to continue supporting when you could just sell something with little or no support such as DRM-free music? It's for the better. Every time I hear those three letters I roll my eyes.

something people are missing here (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25178367)

Wal-Mart's music store didn't shut down. They just stopped doing DRM. That should be considered to be a good thing.

Has anyone thought about lobbying Wal-Mart to offer the DRM-free versions of the DRM tracks that customers had bought, perhaps by paying whatever difference in price there was? That is something that Wal-Mart management might be convinced to do; but it won't happen if all you do is scream at Wal-Mart for shutting down their DRM servers.

In other words, let's make this lemon into lemonade. Let's establish a precedent, that forces DRM stores to distribute DRM-free versions to the customers when the DRM store shuts down.

That, boys and girls, will kill DRM faster than the current tone of bitching and moaning on ./

Obscure Tracks (1)

syntek (1265716) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178491)

One provider I like for obscure tracks is beatport.com(for "Techno") and beatsource.com(for "urban"). They supply DRM tracks and let you download in three formats. MP3 (320 Kbps CBR), WAV (1411 kbps), and MP4 (192 Kbps VBR). I usually download in WAV as I can take this high bit rate and covert down to a smaller more universal format such as MP3 at 192 kbps for my iPod or any format I prefer since it's the high quality version.

Stick it to the users (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178625)

If enough people get burnt from companies pulling the plug on their music (books, games, etc), and have it effectively die, perhaps this wont just be a aberration and turn into a real trend where people refuse to buy encumbered files to begin with..

I know its a real long shot, but i can still hope, right?

Wal-Mart? (1)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178641)

I didn't know Wal-Mart had an online music store, let alone one that was using DRM technology. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to keep downloading my music for free...

The Same thing... (1)

Ender77 (551980) | more than 5 years ago | (#25178817)

will happen with EA's DRM games. It's not IF it will happen, It is WHEN it does. One day they will decide to shut down the activation servers because of either money or they go out of business. All the games people have bought will be useless if they ever want to reinstall them at a later date.
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