WalMart now says they'll keep the DRM servers on forever

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38 Responses to “WalMart now says they'll keep the DRM servers on forever”

  1. stupidjerk says:

    Eh hem. Stop paying for downloads in general.

  2. schembs says:

    Since Amazon is advocating that purchasers of their DRM’d songs now rip them to CD, does that mean that someone could lodge a class action lawsuit against Amazon for actively promoting violation of DMCA?

    How awesome would that be — sue Amazon on behalf of DMCA… How quickly do you think Amazon would jump on the bandwagon to get back to a rational/reasonable copyright framework? I’m guessing, right away…

  3. GeekMan says:

    @Abna

    Possibly. That was the problem with the verbiage in C-61. It was a crime to “circumvent a digital lock”. Which is so broad and poorly defined that it has the potential to be misused.

    If we didn’t have such ridiculous DCMA-style restrictions, we wouldn’t need to worry about DRM. People would be able to legally develop tools to remove it themselves.

  4. emiles says:

    Why can’t Walmart distribute a program that runs on the individual user’s computer in the background and acts like a local DRM server, unlocking their files as long as it’s running?

    It’s not like their selling any more songs under this DRM service so there’s nothing bad that could come of people having the ability to unlock the music themselves…

  5. labradingo says:

    Ha Ha. DRM=Herpes. The “gift” that keeps on giving.

  6. Joe says:

    The title appears to be wrong; they’ve made no commitment to keep the servers running “forever”.

    They say “we have decided to maintain our digital rights management (DRM) servers for the present time” (my emphasis), and advise people to burn the songs to CD. Sounds like they are keeping open the option to turn off the servers.

  7. CowboyX says:

    cough Amazon DRM?

  8. nanite2000 says:

    I wonder how long it will be before it will become cheaper for WalMart to simply buy the DRM-free music for the few remaining customers who will be using the DRM server(s) in future, rather than pay the running costs of increasingly obsolete servers? Years? Decades?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Prediction: Walmart won’t pay a penny for this. The record labels will pay for this, in order to keep their CD’s available in Walmart. Seriously, all Walmart has to do is stop selling CD’s and the labels fold. So, I don’t know whether a periodic check will change hands, or the labels will get less per CD sold, but the labels will definitely pay. As much as I don’t like Walmart, I hope Walmart puts the financial screws to the labels. I suggest that the check change hands. This will serve as a regular reminder, to the labels, as to who really holds the power. Not only that, I hope the MPAA does a DRM thing with Walmart (with the same results) too.

  10. GaryInMiami says:

    I guess that would depend on how many songs they’ve sold. When they made their original announcement I figured they couldn’t have sold that many songs if they decided it was better for them to shut down their rights-management server(s). I was clearly wrong. So I suppose now it’ll depend on how long they continue to see a significant number of hits to those servers. At some point it’s got to be cheaper to give away mp3s.

  11. sabik says:

    Welcome to the infinite cost of doing business with Hollywood.

    Technically not infinite, to the extent future expenses can be discounted. That, of course, depends on the way the server costs will behave – if they go down (newer, faster machines) they can probably be discounted quite a lot. If they rise (maintenance in the face of obsolescence), it could be bad, but then you probably can buy out the customers (as has been suggested, getting them DRM-free copies; a monetary buyout would probably also work).

    Also, while the Walmart text doesn’t actually promise indefinite service, such a promise would probably be invalid in any case due to the rule against perpetuities (depending on the state).

  12. RedShirt77 says:

    Define “forever. Just until the end times? Or will they maintain DRM in Heaven?

  13. cbuchner1 says:

    “Forever” until the hard drive crashes and no one has a clue how to resurrect the server.

    Windows Media license servers require a periodic renewal of digital certificates. If this certificate expires, no more licenses can be issued.

  14. WalterBillington says:

    For God’s sake. Just buy vinyl – they can’t screw with that.

  15. shagman says:

    Giant megacorp bows to public will. Maybe libertarianism isn’t a pipe dream.

  16. MisterEd says:

    @Redshirt77

    “In the event of Rapture, this DRM server will not be rebooted.”

  17. Dr.Arthur says:

    I’m amusing MOST people avoided Walmart song and video purchases to begin with so the overall server costs are probably pretty slim.

  18. KeithIrwin says:

    I’m glad that they’ve switched to selling mp3s instead. I’d probably buy some from them, except that they give the finger to Mac and Linux users (which is me). If you try to use their store with an OS X or Linux machine, you get the following message:

    We’re sorry, your operating system is incompatible. To provide the best download experience, we can no longer support Windows 98, ME or NT. Please visit again after you upgrade to Windows 2000 or XP. Visit our Help section for complete system requirements information.

  19. MattF says:

    “Forever” until the hard drive crashes and no one has a clue how to resurrect the server.

    Uh, no. In the modern world of today you can set up VMs in your server farm to do whatever. If there’s a problem it will be software maintenance, not hardware.

  20. Anonymous says:

    > All those companies (cough Amazon cough Apple cough) that say they’re only doing DRM for now, until they can convince the stupid entertainment execs to ditch it, heed this lesson: you will spend the rest of your corporate life paying for this mistake, maintaining infrastructure whose sole purpose is to lock your customers into a technology restriction that no one really believes in.

    If Apple managed to convince the entertainment middlemen to drop DRM altogether, they would just send everybody an iTunes update that would strip off all the DRM from the protected files.

    It’s only if the middlemen don’t give in and decide to drop DRM requirements that a company would have to maintain DRM infrastructure indefinitely.

  21. arlopickens says:

    I always think it’s funny when I see “WalMart” and “digital rights” in the same article since they have my band’s album for download on their website and no one, not the band, not the label knows how it got there and none of us has ever seen a dime for it.

  22. Julian Bond says:

    #10 If Apple managed to convince the entertainment middlemen to drop DRM altogether, they would just send everybody an iTunes update that would strip off all the DRM from the protected files.

    Actually no. It’s far more likely that Apple would require you to re-purchase DRM free versions. But they might offer you a small discount. The other possibility would be that the iTunes update would have a bug and accidentally nuke all your library requiring you to re-download everything but only after wasting weeks dealing with their customer support.

    Cynical? Moi?

  23. jjasper says:

    @ CowboyX # 1 – I presume he means the movies.

    @ # 10 – Arlopickens – who owns the digital distribution rights? If it’s a company like CD Baby, or The Orchard, someone is actually keeping track, and you can request sales figures.

    If know one owns them, or you don’t know, send an email to WalMart asking who the distributor is. Once you have that information, you can get sales figures from them, or sue, or send WalMart a takedown notice, or any combination of those things.

  24. Julian Bond says:

    #20 Whenever I buy songs from Apple the first thing I do is burn them to CD, nuke the DRM’d copies and re-import the unlocked songs from the CD.

    Good grief man, are you nuts?
    - Pay over the odds and give your money to Apple
    - Spend your time burning CDs and ripping them
    - In the process put the low quality MP3 through a D2A and A2D conversion thus lowering the quality even further. I bet you use the low quality iTunes ripper as well.

    “Just Say No To DRM” in the first place and find another source for your music. Because what you’re doing is insane.

  25. NicodemusLegend says:

    Good news for now, but I fully expect that in a number of years, folks who still access the DRM servers will drop below a threshold level, and Wal-Mart will drop the server (and the inherent expenses) at that time.

  26. brandonthedeveloper says:

    Anyone that knows they are *purchasing* DRM’d anything deserves the screwing they get.

    Caveat emptor – Let the buyer beware.

  27. zandar says:

    “Uh, no. In the modern world of today you can set up VMs in your server farm to do whatever. If there’s a problem it will be software maintenance, not hardware.”

    Because as we all know, there is no actual hardware anymore, just virtual, er, ware.

    Right.

    Hardware can still field!

  28. zandar says:

    er. FAIL. can you tell i’m working on a database today…?

  29. Tom Hale says:

    Bush is on the news

  30. Bloo says:

    I’ve said it before but it bears repeating.

    They could reprogram the DRM servers so that when you requested to verify DRM for a song, it redirected you to a download for a DRM-free form of that song as long as your DRM authenticates.

    It would solve the problem, and also allow them to decommission the servers at some future point when requests have dwindled to very few.

    Those who are concerned about songs they rarely play: it’s not too hard to build a playlist of all your songs (I did it one night with a .bat file on Windows!) and play it one time (speakers off, maybe). Some smarter programmer probably knows how to invoke a media player for 1/2 second per song, which would speed it up even more.

  31. Tom Hale says:

    And now he’s off. Whew, was worried he was going to use those 2 horrible words.M L

  32. MarlboroTestMonkey7 says:

    There will be costs, don’t doubt it, be it hardware or software, the costs of mantaining an old system increases over time. It’s simply not good business to feed a cost you can’t rid off.
    Rights management is the sinker that pulls it all down, as renewal repeats over time, I believe it would be better for them to implement a procedure to get the bought tracks BURNED FOR THE CLIENT AT THE STORE.
    I’d would be ironic, but cost effective.

  33. MarlboroTestMonkey7 says:

    Sorry for repeating “cost”. Cost…cost…cost.

  34. Darren Garrison says:

    “Whew, was worried he was going to use those 2 horrible words.M L”

    ?

    What do you have against Michael Landon?

  35. chrisbloom7 says:

    I love that they included in their email instructions for bypassing the DRM by burning the songs to a CD. Whenever I buy songs from Apple the first thing I do is burn them to CD, nuke the DRM’d copies and re-import the unlocked songs from the CD. DRM is useless, broken, and dumb. Someday Hollywood will do the math and give up the ghost.

  36. chrisbloom7 says:

    Oh, and LOLZ at #6.

  37. CraigGNoble says:

    CALL THEM! 18002228132

    I just called and asked what the policy was on purchased music with DRM. (And I’m not going to tell you so that you have to call them.)

    The solution is that you take your purchased music, burn it to CD and then rip it. Call them and ask for your free CD and CD writer.

  38. Abna says:

    Just out of interest…
    With the DRM laws that some politicians keep trying to get passed in Canada wouldn’t burning the tracks to disk to remove the DRM be classed as illegle?

    So… Wal-Mart is encoraging their customers to participate in potential crimainal action?

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