Similar to Amazon, it appears Walmart is transitioning to DRM free music for their online music store. I applaud them for recognizing the information rights of their customers and removing the impediments to fair use that digital restriction management impose. However, I am concerned about the way they chose to phase out DRM.
As of October 9th they plan to shutdown their DRM servers and terminate customer service for DRM’d music. By phasing out their DRM servers it appears users will no longer have access to transfer their songs between devices, unless they burn them to CDs before the shutdown day. This is a classic example of why DRM (digital restrictions management) is bad news.
Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from Walmart.com. If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash.
Retiring DRM is a giant leap in the right direction (one that all vendors should take), but its important that they not leave their customers in the lurch. Would it be that difficult to offer users the opportunity to freely re-download purchased music in a DRM free and unencumbered format?
This is even more concerning with the PRO IP act passing in the Senate this week, and increasing infringement penalties. Imagine being sued for copyright infringement because you had to circumvent DRM on music you paid for honestly? But don’t worry, I am sure the new “IP Czar” will jump into protect you!
Let this be a lesson to us all, reject DRM in all its forms if you plan to use the products you purchase long term. DRM will never last as long as freedom.