Yahoo Music shutting down its DRM server, customers lose all their paid-for music the next time they crash or upgrade

Yahoo Music just announced that it's pulling the plug on its DRM server -- that means that as of September 30, everyone who bought Yahoo Music will lose the ability to recover it from backup or transfer it to a new PC. Like I said when MSN Music proposed to do the same thing: "All those years the music industry spent insisting that the only way they'd sell music is with crippling DRM attached managed to totally discredit the idea of buying music at all."
Once the Yahoo store goes down and the key servers go offline, existing tracks cannot be authorized to play on new computers. Instead, Yahoo recommends the old, lame, and lossy workaround of burning the files to CD, then reripping them onto the computer. Sure, you'll lose a bunch of blank CDs, sound quality, and all the metadata, but that's a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to listen to that music you lawfully acquired. Good thing you didn't download it illegally or just buy it on CD!

No, you were one of the digital pioneers, and in this brave new frontier world, a few people are just going to get malaria. Fact of life. And someone will step in a bear trap, and then it's time for the bite rag, the alcohol, and the saw. Just the price of progress. And yes, some poor group will get trapped in snowfall when crossing the pass, and cannibalism may or may not be involved by the time they stumble barefoot from the mountains next spring. No one can prevent such tragedies.

DRM still sucks: Yahoo Music going dark, taking keys with it (Thanks, Denver Jewelry Guy!)


  1. This is unfortunate but not entirely unforeseen. Only the chumps are getting burned – if you trusted this kind of DRM scheme, you were asking for it. I wish I could at least commend the victims of this dilemma for obeying the law and respecting copyright but I don’t see obeying a foolish law or playing along with a foolish plan as commendable behaviors. The best way to fight stupidity is to not go along with it!

  2. Write your house rep

    and your congressperson.

    Your “Secretary of State” or “Attorney General” are also good people to write / email.
    Realistically, you’ll probably get a canned response from the feds, but the folks in your state are closer to you and do have a certain amount of power dealing with companies operating in your state.

    I guess the reasoning behind this is “that it’s hard to bribe everyone” and “surely someone isn’t feeling comfortable about their position”

    The thing is that keeping the damn DRM servers up would be a relatively minimal cost. I can’t see it exceeding $150,000 a year to keep this in house.

    This “yea, we got your money in the past, but fuck all of you, we’re turning the authentication server off” bullshit – especially by companies who are still solvent (or parent is still solvent) – has got to stop. A single decent class action by a bloodthirsty firm would also put an end to this, but alas…

    Write one letter, fire the same one off to 4 people. Who knows, maybe you’ll get someone who doesn’t know this is going on.

  3. No, you were one of the digital pioneers, and in this brave new frontier world, a few people are just going to get malaria. Fact of life.

    If you go to a place where malaria runs rampant without first getting the anti-malaria drugs, YOU are to blame when you get sick.

    If you buy DRMed tracks, YOU are to blame when the DRM bites you, not Yahoo, not MSN, not Apple.

  4. Instead, Yahoo recommends the old, lame, and lossy workaround of burning the files to CD, then reripping them onto the computer.

    Wait…did Yahoo! just advise all three of their digital music customers to violate federal law, or did someone finally disemvowel the DMCA and just forget to tell us?

    Crcmvntn, anyone?

  5. all of the above, yes, but if you’re unfortunate enough to have bought music from yahoo: you don’t have to burn your music to actual physical cd-rs, just burn to a virtual drive (create a cd image) and re-rip that. saves you and the environment unneeded blank cd-rs.
    actually, there could be programs doing that in one step, as it’s only moving bits around.

  6. Johen @3: Is it okay with you if I apportion a little blame to the mosquitos and malaria parasites? Arguably not, I guess, since they don’t have much in the way of free will in the matter. Digital media companies do, however, have some free will in the matter of DRM and whether they will make any effort to support customers they’ve left in the lurch, so I think a little tut-tutting is in order, at the very least.

    And, you know, blame or not, it’s entirely in order to post notices about areas of malarial infection so that customers, sorry, travellers can make informed decisions about preventing infection.

  7. There is a certain degree of personal responsibility here – if you are a techy, you know better than to buy DRM crap. Period.

    However, if you are one of 99,999 out of 100,000 people who use computers, you haven’t really got a good grasp of the technology. If the masses trust iTunes as thoroughly as they obviously do, why not Yahoo and others who include the “DRM Feature” in products? The real shame is that these companies aren’t required by federal law to continue to provide the service for X number of years if they offer it in the first place.

    All that being said, I haven’t bought a single CD since the Sony Rootkit fiasco. That burn was the last straw for me – I’ll go to concerts and buy a t-shirt to support the bands I like. Then I’ll go home and seed their album, in support of the band.

  8. …Like I said when MSN Music proposed to do the same thing…

    Microsoft flinched tho and are keeping their DRM servers up after all, for now.

    …However, if you are one of 99,999 out of 100,000 people who use computers, you haven’t really got a good grasp of the technology…

    Frankly, it’s about time someone shuts down their DRM servers and allows these folks to learn that [hard] lesson.

    …All that being said, I haven’t bought a single CD since the Sony Rootkit fiasco…

    Nor a single Sony product period for that matter.

  9. Someone should just force them into a lawsuit over this, so we finally get case law saying something to the effect of ” if you sell something with DRM you are obligated to keep the DRM authorization server running in perpetuity or to offer a full refund.”

  10. I’m willing to bet the Terms of Service, EULA, and other click-through agreements nobody reads clearly spelled out that Yahoo could and might do this, and that in fact, you don’t “own” the tracks you “buy”. Apple and Microsoft’s documents are about as clear on these points as one can be.

    Fact is DRM tracks are licensed, not sold. As someone who works for a major digital music service, I have always thought buying DRM tracks was pretty dumb, as all DRM systems are designed with “content revocation” in mind.

    I’d also note that even if the blind speculation about how much it costs to keep the DRM server up and running is right, margins in the digital music business are thin and resources are scarce.

  11. I don’t know what the EULA says about the longevity of access to the music you purchased, but it seams like there is a possibility of a class action suit against Yahoo and the Music Companies to get your money back or at least DRM free copies of the music you own.

  12. Digital content with DRM has a longevity problem. This is very interesting because digital content is supposed to be darn near immortal! And so content providers add this Blade Runner like life span limiter by tying the viability of content to the availability of the back end server services that support DRM-blessed content. When the back-end goes offline, it’s then only a matter of time before the content playback stops working.

    I have been buying audio cds and installing lower-sample rate copies onto my laptop. But because of the popularity of buying low sample rate content online, the number of high sample-rate CDs has been dropping rapidly.

    The content providers will be glad to provide you with content in whatever form you complain least about, but they choose the order in which to present the formats to you. They’re still offering DRM blessed digital content, and people are still buying it.

    Quit buying longevity-challenged digital content. I like iTunes, but I’ve never bought a single thing from that venue (my son does). I won’t buy digital content from other web stores until the content providers lets Apple go DRM free.

  13. Just get yourself a handy little program called Advanced Audio Recorder from, and the program will record any audio that comes from the computer at all. Play each song and record them with the software, and bz0nk, DRM-free tunes.

  14. Well I guess its a good thing that I never pay money for something i cant keep. It’s a sad day when the illegal bootleg makes more sense than the legitimate product.

    Meanwhile, my advice to you folks out there looking to save your DRM crippled music, providing that you can indeed burn them to CD, burn them to an ISO, there are plenty of programs that will assist you in burning a “Virtual CD” which would quickly convert your crippleware mp3’s into a 700mb disk image, which you can then mount and rip with Windows Media Player or the CD ripper of your choice. its definatly a little bit of a drag, but when you can save 20 or so songs in about 5 minutes of work, its better than getting that 100 stack CD spindle and letting the disks fly.
    I use Nero coupled with my Audible collection (which i have finally opted out of for this verry reason) to burn images, then rip them, creating about 50 7-minute audiofiles that my MP3 player will play instaid of the audible .aa file that few, if any, players will support, annother failure of DRM. all in all, an 11 hour audiobook might only take me an hour and a half of burning images and ripping mp3s. alot faster than the audio recorder programs that would rip in real time or even at chipmunked speeds.

    Good luck out there!

  15. then please, please,seek out a local independent artist of some kind that you can genuinely enjoy (there MUST be at least one) and tell them you want to buy their music from them direct. And do it. Just one disc even. Anything.

  16. Takuan, I don’t know if you are responding to my comment… if so, let me clarify. I’m not sick of music, I’m sick of the industry. CD’s that cost more than they should, DRM, etc… I have no trouble supporting independents. It’s the whole corporate thing that irks me.

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