Wal-Mart Shuts Down Online Music Store, Stranding Customers

Giant retailer will also shut down system that manages copy protections.


Another online vendor is cutting off its customers by shutting down its music store and effectively shutting down the music it sold. This time it's Wal-Mart, the huge retailer that just couldn't make it in selling digital tracks.

Wal-Mart is following several others, including Yahoo and Sony, that sold music with copy protections, or digital rights management (DRM). To keep playing their music, customers had to move their accounts or copy the songs as MP3s to CD.

Wait, I'm confused. Doesn't burning the songs to disk defeat the purpose of rights management? Is Wal-Mart telling us to break the rules? It suggests, as Boing Boing reports:

"...we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer.

The good news is that legal digital downloads increasingly come without copy protections, such as those sold by Amazon. In fact, writes Rob Pegoraro in the Faster Forward blog:

...we're almost out of DRMed music-download stores. Napster and Rhapsody now sell only MP3 downloads but still have DRM servers up for older purchases. And, of course, Apple's iTunes still offers about half of its catalog only in DRMed, non-"iTunes Plus" form— avoid that half of its inventory and buy those songs off a DRM-free store like Amazon's MP3 site instead.