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Yahoo frees the music

July 30, 2008 |  2:53 pm
Caged birds

Today, Yahoo offered the peace pipe to its music customers. The company said it would give coupons or refunds to those who discover that they can't play the music they acquired when the Yahoo Music Store closes its doors Sept. 30.

A week ago, Los Angeles Times editorial writer Jon Healey broke the story and revealed the ramifications of the music store's closure. The news came with a harsher announcement: Yahoo was yanking technical support that would allow customers to relicense the music if they transferred tracks to another computer or tried to play songs after changing operating systems. In other words, poof, there goes the digital music collection.

The upshot, Healey said, was that "customers won't be able to revive frozen tracks or move working ones onto new hard drives or computers, because Yahoo won't be providing any more keys to the songs' DRM wrappers."

Yahoo's decision today was a huge concession but not a big surprise, Healey says. Yahoo appears to be following the footsteps of Microsoft, which more than a month ago closed its MSN music store, angering its customers, then did a reversal and said it would continue to provide the technical support needed for people to listen to their music for three years.

The controversy adds fuel to the ongoing debate over the future of selling music with digital copying protections -- will people still trust buying music with digital copying protections if access to the music is shakier than savings in a failed bank?

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo: Caged birds in India. Credit: Piyal Adhikary / European Pressphoto Agency

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