Print 28 comment(s) - last by Setsunayaki.. on Apr 26 at 8:26 PM

Business decisions leaves customers out in the cold

Customers of MSN Music have until August 31, 2008 to finalize the authorizations on their music purchases, because after that date MSN Music’s servers will stop working.

The date was announced by MSN Entertainment and Video Services manager Rob Bennett, who sent an e-mail to customers last Tuesday describing the situation:

“As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers,” writes Bennett. “You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play.”

Like iTunes, PlaysForSure authorizations are bound not only to a user’s individual computer, but to that particular instance of their operating system as well. If a user has to rebuild, upgrade, or otherwise reinstall his or her operating system, authorizations for MSN Music subscriptions will be reset.

MSN Music customers have little recourse, unfortunately. Aside from permanently deciding which computers will keep their account’s authorization – once August 31 passes, authorizations cannot be changed – users have the option of burning purchased MSN Music to CD and then re-ripping the music to another compressed format, such as MP3. However, the process of “transcoding” (converting) lossy-compressed files (as WMA files are) to another lossy format (such as MP3) significantly degrades the quality of the resulting MP3 file. Users can also burn their music to CD and convert to a lossless format, such as FLAC, but lossless formats consume significantly more space in order to make a perfect copy of already-degraded WMA files.

Bennett insists that files purchased from MSN Music will continue to work – but only on authorized computers. “If I authorize one of my PCs, never get rid of it for the rest of my life, and never upgrade its OS, I will be able to play my tracks forever,” writes Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng, who adds that “this technicality is not rooted in reality—the authorizations will now expire when the computer does, for whatever reason.”

Being that purchasers do not actually own DRM-protected music, users are unfortunately left to the mercy of their DRM’s enforcer. At the time of this writing, Microsoft has not stated any intentions to provide users with refunds.

As companies such as Microsoft and Apple transition their DRM systems – sometimes to other DRM platforms, and sometimes to DRM-free platforms – it is not inconceivable that purchases of other, lesser-known music stores can expect a similar fate, if that store uses DRM. Like MSN Music, Sony’s CONNECT music store left users out in the cold last August, when it announced its servers would shut down on March 2008.

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Never again...
By fm2001 on 4/24/2008 8:29:35 PM , Rating: 5
In my time I've bought over 3000 music CD's from all over the globe. My friends have given me endless crap over the fact that I absolutely refused to buy an iPod, and I will never, ever, ever, buy a downloaded / DRM'd piece of music.

Matter of fact, I pretty much stoped buying CD's (except on very rare ocassions) right about the time the RIAA and pals began their pirating witch hunts, as a personal protest to the way they've treated people. I don't condone pirating, though I don't appreciate people telling me when and where I can listen to something I've paid hard earned money for.

So the DRM Powers that be, can put that in their pipes and smoke it.

And oh yeah, Wyclef Jean... have no fear, you're on my very short list of folks I'm willing to pick up.

RE: Never again...
By Chadder007 on 4/24/2008 9:35:37 PM , Rating: 5
Ive bought multiple DRM'd songs over the internet...but then my licenses became corrupt one day and I couldn't play a freaking thing. DRM is a POS.

RE: Never again...
By TechLuster on 4/25/2008 3:13:41 AM , Rating: 5
You guys should really check out Amazon's mp3 download store. Until it came out, I felt there were really only two reasonable options for acquiring music: CD's (which was annoying to me since ripping was a pain, I had to wait for shipping, it wasted resources with packaging/shipping, they took up space, etc.) and piracy (which is "immoral", and you don't always get "clean" files with accurate ID3 tags).

iTunes and the other DRM services just were/are NOT options, since you don't control the music you purchase.

However, Amazon's mp3 download store is the "best of all worlds". You get high-quality (256kbps) DRM-free files almost instantly at VERY reasonable prices (typically $8/album or < $1 per song). Unlike with ripping or downloading, you have correct ID3 tags and album art for every song you purchase. Finally, the selection's very good--I'd say at least 80% of the albums/songs I've looked for have been available.

As an example, I bought Cut Copy's "In Ghost Colours" at 5:00am on the day it was released for $8 and listened to it on the way to work--THAT is exactly how acquiring music should work!

RE: Never again...
By mondo1234 on 4/24/2008 9:39:26 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't buy a Zune because of this. That and MS gives money from every Zune sale to the Record companies, so you have no choice in your support of the RIAA. MS didn't say anything today on Zune sales when they reported earnings. Is the Zune selling?

Just curious, who replaced "AllofMP3"?

RE: Never again...
By tdawg on 4/24/2008 11:05:46 PM , Rating: 4
I have a Zune, but have never used Zune marketplace for music; never plan to either. There's no reason to when offers drm-free mp3 singles and full cds at very reasonable prices, in my opinion. Works great

RE: Never again...
By mondo1234 on 4/24/2008 11:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
The RIAA puts their hand in your pocket with the Zune and don't even thank you for your donation.
I would rather they drop the price of the Zune.

RE: Never again...
By Sulphademus on 4/25/2008 8:33:41 AM , Rating: 2
So much for my consideration of a Zune.

RE: Never again...
By tmouse on 4/25/2008 9:20:39 AM , Rating: 2
Well ANY legally purchased music DRM or not provides money to the music companies and in turn to RIAA. So unless you buy used music you do contribute. Also buying used music is not the answer since like using "used" cooking oil to power your car, its only viable if only a few do it. The "flat fee" is probably not more than a dollar anyways, so the price drop would not really matter.

RE: Never again...
By fcx56 on 4/25/2008 12:51:56 AM , Rating: 2
I fully agree with your protest, that's why I buy my all CDs used. They're always in perfectly ripable condition, and I get the satisfaction of knowing that I'm not adding to the RIAA's lawyer fund. It's the least I can do.

RE: Never again...
By sprockkets on 4/25/2008 2:26:59 AM , Rating: 3
yeah, and that is why the RIAA wants a piece of the money you make on the second sale.

greedy b@stards

RE: Never again...
By Moishe on 4/25/2008 6:59:10 AM , Rating: 2
absolutely... I refuse to buy any digital product with DRM. Microsoft being so freakin huge can afford to support their own product. There is no excuse for leaving your customers out in the cold, and there is no excuse for customers who get burned by this to stay with a MS music store.

RE: Never again...
By sonoran on 4/25/2008 4:20:31 PM , Rating: 2
I don't condone pirating, though I don't appreciate people telling me when and where I can listen to something I've paid hard earned money for.

I think you have succinctly summarized the way most people feel about digital media.

Me - I stayed away from DRM'd music just because of stuff like this. Now I buy what I want (if I can find it there) from Amazon's download service. And my music directory is backed up online (via, so if my hard drive goes belly up, or my whole machine is lost (fire, burglary, etc) I can just restore what I bought.

DRM is crap
By winterspan on 4/25/2008 1:39:51 AM , Rating: 3
Who the hell would use Microsofts POS service? Even iTunes store is crap, however 1) Apple is TRYING to move away from DRM but the stupid labels won't give them DRM-free tracks in order to take away Apple's negotiation power. 2) At least Apple's fairplay DRM is easy to remove.

Bottom line, Itunes, Amazon, eMusic, or whatever, Make sure to ONLY buy DRM-free songs.


RE: DRM is crap
By Smurfer2 on 4/25/2008 7:22:14 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I would... However, like 2, the DRM is easy to remove. Most of the songs I got from no longer are DRMed, just need to check the rest....

Where are lossless downloads? No idea, maybe wouldn't sell as well?

RE: DRM is crap
By VashHT on 4/25/2008 2:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't bought any online music for this reason alone basically. I won't buy any until they offer something better than MP3's. They're fine for earbuds, but if you have a decent stereo system then lossless sounds far better.

Windows media player ripped cds
By deskwizard on 4/24/2008 8:11:19 PM , Rating: 1
Just wondering if this will apply to WMA's created with old versions (7-8) of Windows Media player? I remember having to go to a webpage to get "autorization" to play files created before a friend computer was reinstalled.. . doesnt matter much but still, would be nice to know they get converted before august 31st

By noirsoft on 4/25/2008 11:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
Generally, CDs ripped into WMA format are not DRMed at all. Yes, there is an option to do it, but if your friend did that, then I think he is the only person in the world to have ever done so. In general, the help file says that if you want to use your music on multiple computers, then don't check the "Copy Protect" button when ripping CDs.

Against pirates & DRM
By JonnyDough on 4/24/2008 11:38:41 PM , Rating: 3
I'm against both. Pay for what you get, don't steal it. Let us have freedom of music please. I wish both sides of the coin would just start showing some respect for property, but then...this is America. Respect is a thing of the past.

ahh NIN
By grimdeath on 4/25/2008 12:42:50 AM , Rating: 3
man it is soo great that nine inch nails (aka trent reznor) is my favorite band ;) I know I wont have to deal with this BS! how many times will people allow themselves to be screwed in the a-hole before they wise up?

also reminds me...time to go upgrade my dual boot of ubuntu to hardy haron :)

By ghost101 on 4/24/2008 8:51:00 PM , Rating: 2
Is there a way to backup the license key still? I remember when wmp used to prompt me all the time to do exactly that.

DRM or no DRM
By jconan on 4/24/2008 8:53:30 PM , Rating: 2
This was 1 of the reasons that most people don't like to buy music with DRM when a company decides to drop product support, the end-user is left out in the cold. HOpefully consumers wise up and learn their lesson to boycott DRM products otherwise they'll loose their paid for infected DRM with their hard earned dollars. There should be a law banning DRM to protect consumers from these potential kind of events like banks insured by FDIC for the 1st 100k.

support pirates now do not buy any drm songs
By SPOOOK on 4/25/08, Rating: 0
By melgross on 4/25/2008 1:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
That's idiotic.
By hopsandmalt on 4/25/2008 6:04:20 AM , Rating: 2
You may want to check out I have been using them for almost 3 years now and they are .09 a song. Never had any problem with them. Not once.

Technical mistake in this story
By mpjesse on 4/25/2008 7:41:42 AM , Rating: 2
Like iTunes, PlaysForSure authorizations are bound not only to a user’s individual computer, but to that particular instance of their operating system as well.

I don't know about PlaysForSure, but iTunes DRM will allow you to play a downloaded song across 5 different computers so long as they're all using the same iTunes account. For instance, I can download a song on my Macbook, copy it to a flash drive, copy it to my PC, and it'll play in iTunes just fine. Furthermore I can burn that song to a CD or sync it with any of my iPods from my PC. Each downloaded song is encoded with your iTunes account information; if the computer you're attempting to play it on has the same iTunes account info you're covered.

The suggestion that a downloaded iTunes song will only play on one single Mac or PC is both inaccurate and misleading.

DRM = dead
By LemonJoose on 4/25/2008 9:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
I have never and will never purchase any downloaded digitial file that comes with DRM for exactly this reason. Consumers losing the ability to use the DRMed files they've "purchased" due to authentication servers/companies closing up shop is an outcome which was predicted many years ago when DRM was first being foisted on the market.

After this prominent example of how DRM screws legitimate customers, anyone who continues to buy DRMed digital music/video files from vendors like Itunes and Zune marketplace is an idiot in my book.

A call to Arms.
By Setsunayaki on 4/26/2008 8:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't like the fact that I am charged $1 for an MP3 that is at 1/11th the quality of the actual song itself. Mathematically speaking if $1 is 1/11, then $11 is 1/1...meaning that a CD that costs 9 - 15 dollars is cheaper than really buying an MP3 anyday...and if you find FLAC files...even better.

Some will reply and tell me "But most people can't listen to at max aren't the mainstream"

Sorry...but that doesn't fly. When I buy a product, I want a COMPLETE PRODUCT, not 1/13th to 1/9th a product. The RIAA is the first group suing people for downloading fractions of a product. Also, I hate DRM.....and if you read the MS will find that everyone who bought MP3s in GOOD FAITH with DRM just got royally screwed because if after AUGUST 31st. 2008...if their comps break down for any reason......THOSE SONGS CAN NO LONGER PLAY AND ONLY WORK ON ONE COMPUTER.

Sorry but this is unacceptable!...You want to do something about this?...You want to let your anger out?...Here is what you can do to restore freedom.

Become Leaders of this fight against Microsoft, the Industry and the RIAA....Send this article to as many people as you can possibly imagine. Send them to chatgroups, to newsgroups....tell your friends and tell your family...and recruit people...Build sites to meet, convey and spread the message and chat networks. Encourage people to CALL THEIR REPRESENTATIVES AND CONTACT THEIR SENATORS.....and tell them that YOU REFUSE TO BE RIPPED OFF!

Tell the world....that on August 31st, 2008....The world will be united and will simultaneously file the largest class action lawsuit in history....against Microsoft, the RIAA, and the Industry that they support....

Microsoft, for closing the only means to PROTECT YOUR PURCHASE and VALIDATE YOUR PURCHASE. THE RIAA for introducing the idea of DRM (and punishing many when they are criminals themselves) and the Industry for supporting it...They must be held responsible for this as well.

This is ONE FIGHT....that if people stand together....It will be near-impossible for them those "so called big corporations" to win. Its not too late...How many rights do people have to be stripped from before people start saying "Enough is Enough? and choose to do something about it!"

DRM, ShmRrrMmm
By Phanuel on 4/25/2008 12:24:41 PM , Rating: 1
I'm pretty sure iTunes is the easiest DRM system I've ever seen to get around. It's built into the program. Buy an album, burn it to a CD as .wav files (using the built in burner no less), then just re-rip the CD back to your computer.

Hooray, DRM free music.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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