The retail giant Wal-Mart has now informed its customers that they have until October 9th to backup any DRM-protected songs they have by creating Audio CDs from these songs, as Wal-Mart will be taking its DRM servers offline on that date. This news comes just a year after Wal-Mart started selling music in the MP3 format, which is free of DRM copy protection. Once the songs are written to CD, they are no longer copy protected, which means that the customer can even rip the music back off to encode in the MP3 format.
After October 9th, users who have DRM-protected music from Wal-Mart will still be able to playback their music on PCs and devices that have been authorised by the DRM servers prior to the shut-off date. However, they will not be able to transfer the music on to any new PC or device and if their existing PC or device crashes, the DRM protected music cannot be recovered. According to Wal-Mart, music sold after February 2008 is not affected.
Despite all music stores that have switched to selling DRM free music and the problems consumers face by buying DRM protected content, the leading music download store iTunes still sells music from 3 of the 4 major recording labels with DRM. However, as Apple’s DRM is only compatible with its iPod series, the DRM works to Apple’s advantage by effectively forcing iTunes customers to buy an iPod to play their DRM protected music on the move.