Wal-Mart offers music customers handy relief

Giant US retailer Wal-Mart has given previous online music customers some kind of reprieve with a partial capitulation on previously-stated plans to close its DRM server for music purchases, meaning previous customers won’t lose their music.

Naturally, though, it’s only a partial capitulation, and fails to address the central issues of such DRM authorisation denial.

“Based on feedback from our customers, we have decided to maintain our digital rights management (DRM) servers for the present time,” an email from the company reads.

While this is an improvement, this mixed message still means Wal-Mart is failing to give its customers any sense of security whatsoever for their purchases, some of which are a year old.

“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.”

OK – sound advice, but the question remains, why is back-up a customers problem? It’s only music industry forces that demand each download be paid for. Surely it’s not unreasonable to be able to re-download previously-purchased music from your music supplier in the event of a crash? It’s extremely difficult to get your digital collection insured after all, unlike vinyl.

“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,” the message from Wal-Mart adds.

We’re not applauding – yet – we think Microsof’s ‘Plays For Sure’ branding is something that should be looked at, in similar vein to the cafuffle surrounding its Vista ready campaign. And it’s not like Wal-Mart is a struggling company that can’t underwrite its customer’s collections.

Off topic rant: Wal-Mart, “insure” is to do with insurance, the word that you should have used in your email is “ensure”. Thank you.

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