links for 2008-07-27


When doing the right thing bites you


It was announced this week that Yahoo! will be shutting down its DRM servers on September 30.

What does this mean?  (I sound like Dick the Bruiser (George Baier version)…)

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and may represent one of many schema designed to protect against piracy of materials.  In this case, it is some music from parts of the Yahoo! Music Store.  In a nutshell, DRM protected music checks a signature against a DRM server to make sure that you have the legal rights to play the music.  On the surface, it sounds like the the right thing to do and people who have purchased DRM protected music just assume that there will be no issues.

As long as you continue to play the music on the original configuration that it was originally purchased and installed on, there should be no problem.  But, what if you reinstall the operating system or upgrade to a new computer?  When you migrate to the new configuration, your music needs to be re-validated.

Herein lies the problem.  If the server isn’t there to do this, you’re left with music that you can’t play.

Now, there are ways to circumvent DRM and the Yahoo! website has an FAQ page that suggests some ways to preserve the music including the details about the movement of Yahoo! accounts to Rhapsody.  There are also rumours that Yahoo! will be looking at ways to compensate those who purchased the music.  No details yet though.  This is all fine and dandy, but should it be necessary?  After all, people bought the original music in good faith.  Perhaps “bought” is just an assumption.

Personally, I’ve always felt that DRM was the price that we pay for the ability to download music from music stores at a reasonable price.  I’m happy to pay the price; talented artists deserve to be compensated for their talents.  Without these talents, we don’t have the enjoyment from their skills and abilities.

Microsoft made a similar announcement earlier but ended up backing away from it.  Will Yahoo! do the same?  I’m not sure that it will happen.  It sounds like Yahoo! has a more comprehensive plan.

This announcement should give every music loving person pause to think.  Yes, we all know that we should be doing backups all the time, but do we?  Personally, I figure that my music player is a perfect backup for my music.  But is it truly?

I like the concept of the online music store – it lets me only purchase the tracks that I really want from an album.  However, buying the original CD-ROM instead of going online does provide you a natural backup source where tracks can be restored.  It just seems like such a big step backward.

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