The Death of DRM

Yahoo rang the latest note in the seeming death knell for DRM-protected music as the company decided to "abandon customers who bought tracks from its music store encoded with DRM," according to the IDG News Service.

The company will shut down the Yahoo! Music Store, along with the servers that renew DRM licenses, on Sept. 30.  After that, according to the notification e-mail from Yahoo, "you will not be able to transfer songs to unauthorized computers or re-license these songs after changing operating systems (full text available from the LA Times)." Songs currently playing on a PC should continue to do so until the OS changes, and "backing up your music to an audio CD will allow you to copy the music back to your computer again if the license keys for your original music files cannot be retrieved," per the e-mail.

The timing of the move is somewhat surprising given that Microsoft just tried to do the same, but last month reversed course because of consumer backlash and announced it would keep the license-renewal servers going until 2011. But it's not surprising given how DRM has been faring overall.  It's dead, Jim.

With Apple leading the way, more and more companies are offering DRM-free music for sale. Musicians are going one step further - Techdirt heaps praise on Trent Reznor for intelligently offering a limited edition CD for sale as he offers the tracks themselves as a free download.

And finally, on a much larger scale, BusinessWeek reports that Britain is mulling a plan to levy a yearly tax on broadband users. In exchange, people could legally download as much music as they wanted, which makes it sound like a government-run national subscription service. The tax proceeds would be distributed among the copyright holders.

An interesting idea, to say the least. I don't know if it would work, but it sure couldn't fail as badly as DRM.

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