Customers Cry Foul On Wal-Mart’s DRM Decision

    September 30, 2008

 In yet another shutdown of DRM servers, following on the heels of Yahoo and MSN Music,Wal-Mart is also shutting down their DRM servers casting millions of dollars in media locked into one computer, unless you can copy it over to disk. 

Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from 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. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer. Source: Idolator

This leaves the field for regular MP3 music wide open now, with many of the major DRM players in music effectively leaving the field. What this holds for the future of DRM is anyone’s best guess. With the utter rejection of DRM in Spore, and other gaming platforms, the slowing adoption of Blu-Ray, and a host of other ways that media is controlled, the customer has effectively spoken about not being locked in to anything. 

While there will continue to be people who will still try to push a DRM agenda, it is going to be more difficult to do this in the future. If Wal-Mart, Yahoo and Microsoft have all backed away from the technology realizing that it is a continuing arms race between DRM builders and crackers, the profit from this technology will continue to weaken as more customers and suppliers simply opt out of the entire process. 

Good for customers, and good for everyone else in the longer run.