Protests against Yahoo's termination of music tracks licence
From 30 September, former customers of Yahoo's Music Unlimited online music store will no longer be able to copy the DRM-protected tracks they purchased there to a different computer or re-license them after changing operating systems. DRM music on an authorised computer is said to remain functional while the computer's operating system stays the same. In an FAQ, users are advised to burn the music they purchased on CDs to bypass Digital Rights Management before the store closes at the end of September.
In February, Yahoo sold its music subscription business to its competitor Rhapsody, which is run by RealNetworks and Viacom. Now it appears that the internet service provider wants to shut down the licensing servers for its DRM-protected music. Microsoft pursued a similar plan for its MSN Music online store which closed down at the end of 2006. The Redmond giant wanted to shut down the licensing servers for music purchased at the store on 31 August 2008, but was confronted with protests and consequently abandoned the plan. The licensing servers are now scheduled to be shut down in 2011.
This was pointed out by members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) civil rights group. In a blog entry the group says they've warned music fans for years that they could lose their DRM-wrapped music if vendors decided to withdraw support for it – just as Microsoft and now Yahoo have done. The civil rights activists are appalled by the suggestion that Yahoo customers burn the music onto CDs: "Yahoo wants its customers to invest more time, labour and money in order to continue to enjoy the music for which they have already paid." The more music they bought, the more work they'll have to do, said the author of the blog entry.
In addition, the EFF said, Yahoo customers who "rescue" their music this way will no longer have any proof of purchase and that there is no certainty that all relevant copyright owners would agree that copying their music to CDs without DRM is lawful. The civil rights activist have now asked Yahoo to apologise to their customers and give them the choice of either getting their money back or exchanging their purchased tracks for DRM-free versions. In addition, they demanded that Yahoo cover customers' legal costs if they are hit with a potential copyright infringement claim.