Wal-Mart bricks DRM downloads as it advances into the new digital age

    Microsoft and Wal-Mart are teaming up to put those few people good enough to use the superstore’s digitial download service over a pretty sizable barrel. As Wal-Mart makes the move to exclusively DRM-free downloads, it has made the decision to turn off  the license key for songs purchased before August 2007 and some purchased as recently as this February. The Playforsure software was developed by Microsoft, who recently decided to stop development on the program. Wal-Mart seized the opportunity and offered the following press release:


    Important Information About Your Digital Music Purchases


    We hope you are enjoying the increased music quality/bitrate and the improved usability of Walmart’s MP3 music downloads. We began offering MP3s in August 2007 and have offered only DRM (digital rights management) -free MP3s since February 2008. As the final stage of our transition to a full DRM-free MP3 download store, Walmart will be shutting down our digital rights management system that supports protected songs and albums purchased from our site.


    If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, 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. This change does not impact songs or albums purchased after Feb 2008, as those are DRM-free.


    Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from Walmart.com. If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer.


    Thank you for using Walmart.com for music downloads. We are working hard to make our store better than ever and easier to use.


    Walmart Music Team

     The problem, of course, is that there is always some degree of degradation when files are transferred and re-ripped to a hard drive. Wal-Mart should do the right thing and offer replacement downloads, or at least raffle off a spot on their music team. As it stands, however, listeners will either reprurchase or suffer through scratchy versions. [Idolator]