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Music Media Microsoft Your Rights Online

MSN Music DRM Servers Going Dark In September 543

PDQ Back writes to tell us about an email Microsoft sent to former customers of MSN Music today. The company said it would be turning off the DRM servers used to authorize playback of music purchased from the now-defunct MSN Music store. "'As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers,' reads the e-mail. This doesn't just apply to the five different computers that PlaysForSure allows users to authorize, it also applies to operating systems on the same machine (users need to reauthorize a machine after they upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, for example). Once September rolls around, users are committed to whatever five machines they may have authorized — along with whatever OS they are running."
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MSN Music DRM Servers Going Dark In September

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  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mosiadh ( 1045736 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:55PM (#23166196)
    Proof that DRM is inherently evil, even for the MS fanbois.
    • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:20PM (#23166428)
      In the past, the argument against perpetual authorisation was along the lines of "if the music retailer goes under" then all your music will be lost. This, however, is proof that only a change in business strategy can render all your purchased music defunct. There could also be legal/authorisation issues if music labels pull out of the store. (Or in MS's case swap from strategy to another.)
      • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaedalusHKX ( 660194 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @10:05PM (#23166846) Journal
        You do realize that Microsoft might actually be trying to demonstrate that DRM is indeed a tool of evil.

        And not just any kind of evil... but EEEEEVVEEEEELLL.. kind of evil.

        Well, all I can say is simple. Expect that sooner or later, people are going to get a MAJOR shaft in the arse for locking themselves into servitude to any particular big shop. It is to be expected.
      • Is there any chance they will do the right thing and provide a conversion utility to convert the DRM songs into non-DRM songs so the purchaser doesn't have the songs stolen back from them. If not, I smell a lawsuit..
      • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by electrosoccertux ( 874415 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @01:23AM (#23168098)
        In light of MS's recent comments about turning Windows 7 into a modular OS, and making it subscription based, lets look at any incentives MS might have in cutting off people from their legally purchased music.

        I wonder if they're doing this on purpose to scare people away from paying once; to later introduce a subscription music service. Instead of buy once, play forever; buy forever, and play as long as you pay.

        It would be very sly of them to scare people away from "buying once" into "paying continually, and if they decide to pull the product, well who cares, you're not paying anymore then after all". I'd have to say this shows incredible foresight if this is what they're aiming for; doing this to leave a sour taste in people's mouth with Buy Once software schemes; aiming for a more tame response to a subscription only Windows7. People would think "well what if they pull the activation servers on Windows Vista like they did the music? Maybe I DO want a subscription service..."

        I once thought MS was stupid. Now, they may be more ingenious* than I ever imagined.

        *It's probably just some Exec deciding they're not making enough money.
    • Re:DRM (Score:5, Informative)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:25PM (#23166456) Homepage

      Yes, this is a perfect example against those who would say, "DRM isn't a problem unless you're a pirate." I'm sure there were people who paid good money to buy audio tracks. Not rent, *buy*.

      I know, I know, make whatever legalistic argument you want, but when people paid there money, they had an expectation that they were *buying* the music. Therefore, deactivating these servers is effectively stealing those people's property, much more so than "pirates" do. When I "pirate" downloads a music track, they haven't deprived the rightful owner of the use of that music. However, when Microsoft disables their servers, the rightful owners are deprived of their ability to listen to that music.

      Of course I'd like to see DRM disappear. Short of that, companies should at least be required to offer the means to crack their DRM should they ever deactivate their servers.

      A side question: can Microsoft really not afford to just keep these servers running? I guess they're having some problems with Vista being a flop and all, but how expensive can it be to maintain these servers? On the other hand, I don't particularly blame Microsoft for this situation. It's an inherent problem with DRM, and it was bound to happen to someone sooner or later.

      • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:36PM (#23166564) Homepage Journal
        Backwards I am afraid.
        DRM isn't a problem if your a pirate. It is only a problem if you are customer.
      • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:40PM (#23166620) Homepage Journal

        Here's a thought: class action lawsuit naming both Microsoft and the record labels as codefendants. Demand that they make available DRM-free copies of all music that has been legally purchased or at a minimum provide free copies based on a more up-to-date DRM mechanism. It's time to force the industry to pay the true cost of DRM: maintaining support for it forever.

        Once that is over, we should push for a law that requires all DRM-laden music sellers to be bonded for enough money to cover the cost of maintaining the DRM scheme indefinitely (that is, operating off of only a portion of the interest earned on the principal).

        • Unlikely. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ZPWeeks ( 990417 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @10:30PM (#23167032)

          Unfortunately just about anyone "legally purchasing" music has signed a license agreement with the service. Since they are legally purchasing a license to use the sound recording for personal use - a rather restrictive license, at that - they really got what was coming to them.

          I doubt that the courts would be an effective place to take this up. The market has already started to push producers towards offering their music through DRM-free avenues. (iTunes Plus, Amazon MP3, eMusic, Magnatune)

          If enough users get screwed like this with closing DRMed stores, DRM will come crashing down.

          (side note: I'm in a band that chose to only make its music available through DRM-free stores. We don't like letting retailers screw our fans. Check it out [].

          • Re:Unlikely. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @01:25AM (#23168116) Homepage Journal

            The reality is that copies of music are sold, not licensed. Title 17 does not provide for any licensing of a work to someone for use in the home. Search for the word "license" in Title 17 if you don't believe me. Every instance refers to licensing the right to copy it. The right to play a legally produced copy of music that was legally obtained is pretty soundly covered under "Fair Use". Therefore, a third party taking away the ability to play music that you own without providing a replacement effectively constitutes theft of property, and should be punished accordingly with jail time for the top people at the record companies and Microsoft plus civil liability. No contract can allow a company to violate the law, period. Such a clause would be considered an illegal agreement, and thus would not be upheld in court.

            That said, if we naively believe the music industry's misinformation and consider it a license, Chapter 2, section 203 lays out what they have to do so revoke that license. Let's just say it would be cheaper for them to mail a copy of every song out on CD. Among other things, it requires them to provide an advance notice in writing to every single person who received the license, which must be signed by the copyright holders, must provide the effective date of termination, and can never occur under any circumstances prior to the 35th anniversary of the grant. Even such a revocation would not remove your rights to private listening of the material, however, as the copyright act explicitly disclaims any interest in covering such use of the material in Chapter 1, section 110:

            Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:
            (4) performance of a nondramatic literary or musical work otherwise than in a transmission to the public, without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage and without payment of any fee or other compensation for the performance to any of its performers, promoters, or organizers, if--
            (A) there is no direct or indirect admission charge; or
            (B) ...

            That said, if this is a nonexclusive copyright license, however, and even if you believe that somehow the EULA manages to trump Title 17, unless there is a termination clause, they cannot revoke that license without cause, and even if there is, a court will almost certainly hold such a clause to be unconscionable, particularly in light of the implied promise that the music "plays for sure", the fundamental inequality of the two parties, and the fact that for most of the people involved, the only way to obtain the music on a per-track basis in a way that was compatible with their devices was through one of a handful of services all operating under license from Microsoft, all with the same contract terms.

            In short, the case would be about as open and shut as a copyright-related lawsuit can get, and Microsoft and the recording industry would be on the losing end of it.... While normally I would say that the only people who win such a case are the lawyers, even a win for the lawyers in this case would be a great win for the public as a whole, as it would establish precedent for the legal responsibility incumbent upon music publishers who choose to use restrictive DRM. and any such precedent in that area would be a positive change over the current state of the industry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Z34107 ( 925136 )

      DRM is perhaps a necessary evil, as long as the major labels feel the need to compel anyone who sells their music to use it.

      But, it's not as big of a deal as people make it out to be - the DRM can be circumvented by burning to and ripping from a CD.

      "But, this reduces audio quality!" you say? I figure if you were that concerned about audio quality, you wouldn't be buying compressed music from MSN, iTunes, etc.

      If you use online stores, regularly burn your songs onto CD and re-rip them - it's the only

      • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @12:00AM (#23167618) Homepage

        But, it's not as big of a deal as people make it out to be - the DRM can be circumvented by burning to and ripping from a CD.

        "But, this reduces audio quality!" you say? I figure if you were that concerned about audio quality, you wouldn't be buying compressed music from MSN, iTunes, etc.
        You figure wrong. Modest bitrate lossy files are made to be transparent to most people, but recompressing it is probably going to introduce noticable artifacts for many people who would otherwise be perfectly happy.

        Also, what the fuck? You find it reasonable to dig out a CD(-R, erase), burn, rip, encode, and tag every album or track you buy? Especially when you're already paying most of the price of a physical copy? Excuse me if I find that a completely idiotic suggestion; I buy music online because it's convenient and fast, this oft brought up suggestion makes it neither.
  • Brilliant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by conteXXt ( 249905 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:55PM (#23166198)
    simply brilliant.

    At last Microsoft makes the case AGAINST DRM.

    Thank you gentlemen.

  • Now If (Score:3, Funny)

    by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:55PM (#23166202)
    They would only turn of the servers that supply Vista "updates"
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:56PM (#23166222)
    Do the original terms of the sale/license agreement permit Microsoft to do this?

    And if so, does this show that the product, even as initially sold, was defective, unfit for purpose, or deceptively advertised?
  • iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:58PM (#23166236) Journal
    And if you don't buy the non-DRM iTunes songs (meaning you buy the regular iTunes music) this is exactly something you have to look forward to in the future. Some legal action by the RIAA or what have you causes Apple to revoke DRM licenses and/or stop supporting iTunes client applications.

    Never forget that DRM means you are dependent on a company ... as long as you want to be able to access that music, the company has to let you.

    Which is why I buy from Amazon (or if the band's site supports/suggest another) non-DRM MP3 format.

    Please do not respond with "which is why I buy all my songs for $0.00 from a site called Bittorrent posts." I do tire of those ... we all already know the majority of slashdotters have the balls/lack the brains to defy the RIAA blatantly in that manner.
  • by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <(samwyse) (at) (> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @08:59PM (#23166240) Homepage Journal
    I keep trying to explain to people why DRM is bad. This makes my job easier.
  • don't worry... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:00PM (#23166256)
    ... bittorrent has them backed up for you.
  • by FrozenFrog ( 539212 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:02PM (#23166270)
    Seems the link in the article is incorrect (or has changed). Correct link is: MS to nuke music DRM []
  • Sucks to be you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firas Zirie ( 1179357 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:03PM (#23166276)
    Well that's just fabulous. Microsoft are basically telling their customers that in a few months your music is precariously balanced on the edge of not playing. How about unlocking all the music and getting over your failure of a music store huh?
  • Hm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ChinggisK ( 1133009 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:05PM (#23166292)

    This doesn't just apply to the five different computers that PlaysForSure allows users to authorize
    Am I the only one that read that the first time as meaning that there are only five former customers of MSN Music?

    Sorry, been a long day studying for exams.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:07PM (#23166320) Homepage Journal
    I have a bunch of CD's that I bought from a record store that went belly up. They still work. Maybe this DRM world ain't all its cracked up to be after all.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:09PM (#23166334)
    So, only rap after that then, huh?


    sorry, sorry, sorry, had to...
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sneftel ( 15416 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:17PM (#23166394)
    Heck, this sounds like great news. After all, unlike many a failed new media content venture, Microsoft isn't going out of business and leaving their customers high and dry... just retiring this particular service. So they have plenty of time to come up with a migration plan for their customers, so that nobody who paid for music has to lose access to it. I mean, hell. They're a multinational corporation with an image to protect. They're not just going to tell their customers to go fuck themselves, right?

  • by eiapoce ( 1049910 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:22PM (#23166438)
    I am utterly pleased with MS decision to shut down the DRM servers.

    Know why? There are people that don't realise how bad are DRM downloads until they get royally fucked in the ass and this is what's going to happen on sept 1 2008.

    Nothing educates more than a bad experience.
  • by Socguy ( 933973 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:27PM (#23166478)
    HA HA!
  • by daveime ( 1253762 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:34PM (#23166544)
    Isn't this classed as deceptive advertising ?

    PlaysForAsLongAsWeTellYouItPlaysNowFuckOff would have been more appropriate.

  • I felt... (Score:5, Funny)

    by actionbastard ( 1206160 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:36PM (#23166566)
    a great disturbance on the Internet, as if millions of Plays For Sure musicplayers suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:40PM (#23166612)
    While this is a perfect example of why DRM sucks, its also a perfect example of how media distributors can force a user to buy their music & movies multiple times. All they need do, is terminate one of their companies, and start a new one requiring a different DRM key or scheme.

    Like it or not, companies love this because by licensing you products, they can terminate the license at anytime and force you to buy it again. :)

    DRM sucks.
  • by Lieutenant_Dan ( 583843 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @09:40PM (#23166622) Homepage Journal
    Okay, first skip the obvious answer ... it was a rhetorical question.

    They don't want to support it. Fair enough, stop issuing anymore of these types of DRM keys.

    Now, what would cost them to keep this operational for a few years? 2 dedicated servers? 10? 20? 2 full-time staff for 5 to 10 more years to support this and use the existing datacentre support folks for the basic 24/7 stuff. Let's round it to a nice $2.5 million for 10 years. Not a whole lot for a large company.

    What heat will they get from this? This is a PR fiasco for their DRM technology in general and more importantly shows that MS is willing to leave their "followers" high and dry when it suits them. What will these pissed off users do next time? Yeah, get iTunes, pirate, avoid music altogether, and better yet, avoid MS products. Potential revenue loss from 10,000 stranded users? Probably a few million. Think about: these folks PAID for DRM music. Easy sheep to get money from. They're killing their cash cow.

    Someone at the MS marketing or client services department needs to get axed.
  • by DieByWire ( 744043 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @10:01PM (#23166816)
    Just not for long.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @10:42PM (#23167114) Homepage

    Microsoft is still promoting PlaysForSure. [] "Same Compatibility Promise - Different Name".

    What part of "false advertising" did you not understand.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker