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DRM follies

Did you buy music with embedded digital-rights management (DRM) from Wal-Mart? Unless you’ve obtained a basic level of computer geekery, you better listen to it enough to get sick of it by October 9.

Wal-Mart, which began selling DRM-free music exclusively this year, no longer has a financial incentive to maintain the DRM system that allows you to listen to the music you bought and will turn it off on that date.

In order to listen to that music past October 9, the company warns, you must burn the songs to a CD. No, Wal-Mart will not reimburse you for the cost of those blank CDs.

(A side note: Wal-Mart does not violate the DMCA in this case because a temporary exemption allows a party to break DRM if the DRM is obsolete. See item three here.)

Cory Doctorow has an awesomely sarcastic comment:

But don’t worry, this will never ever happen to all those other DRM companies — unlike little fly-by-night mom-and-pop operations like Wal*Mart, the DRM companies are rock-ribbed veterans of commerce and industry, sure to be here for a thousand years. So go on buying your Audible books, your iTunes DRM songs, your Zune media, your EA games… None of these companies will ever disappear, nor will the third-party DRM suppliers they use. They are as solid and permanent as Commodore, Atari, the Soviet Union, the American credit system and the Roman Empire.

I think I’ll stick to finding music on peer-to-peer networks, as long as Canada keeps it legal.

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