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Wal-Mart pressured into tune keys life support

DRM servers open 'for the present time'

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For digital music vendors, protecting files with digital rights management (DRM) is like a lobster trap. It's easy enough to enter into, but getting back out is another matter entirely.

Like Microsoft and Yahoo before it, US music selling heavyweight Wal-Mart has found itself in the same cagey predicament. Wal-Mart today bowed to public pressure and has reversed its decision to shut down its DRM servers. For now.

Seven months ago, Wal-Mart stopped offering DRM-protected .wma files on its online music store in favor of DRM-free MP3s. But customers who previously purchased the DRM-laden files still needed access to license keys on Wal-Mart's servers in order to transfer their music to a different computer or device.

The company's sudden announcement a few weeks back that it would shut down the DRM servers understandably upset those unfortunates who purchased music before the switch.

On its official blog, Wal-Mart recommended customers burn their DRM music to a CD if they want to back-up or transfer the files to a new PC or music player. The same laborious solution was offered by Yahoo when it closed its DRM servers this July.

An email recently sent out to Walmart Music customers reverses the company decision to kill the servers, "for the present time:

Based on feedback from our customers, we have decided to maintain our digital rights management (DRM) servers for the present time. What this means to you is that our existing service continues and there is no action required on your part. Our customer service team will continue to assist with DRM issues for protected windows media audio (WMA) files purchased from Walmart.com.

While our customer support team is available to assist you with any issues, we continue to recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you insure access to them from any personal computer at any time in the future.

We appreciate your support and patience as we work to provide the best service possible to you. As we move forward with our 100% MP3 store, we'll continue to update you with key decisions regarding our service and your account via email.

Thank you for using Walmart MP3 Music Downloads.

The Walmart Digital Music Team

Props to Engadget for the email. ®

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