Music purchased from Yahoo could stop working soon - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Music purchased from Yahoo could stop working soon

NEW YORK - Some users of Yahoo's music-download service will find songs they bought inaccessible after Sept. 30, adding fuel to criticisms over copy-protection measures known as digital rights management.

Yahoo Inc. promised it won't entirely abandon loyal customers. Spokeswoman Carrie Davis said the company was considering refunds, gift certificates or other compensation for the "small number" of users affected by the change. Yahoo wouldn't disclose the actual number.

Yahoo announced this year it was ceasing its online music subscription service and switching customers to RealNetworks Inc.'s Rhapsody. Subscriptions will continue at the same monthly rates for an unspecified period.

For people who bought songs outright - paying a one-time fee for a specific track rather than a continuing subscription for unlimited music - Yahoo will be shutting the digital-rights management servers needed to verify eligibility. Copy-protection measures placed on the tracks require access to those servers when users buy a new computer or upgrade their operating system.

The company warns that "after the store has closed, you will not be able to transfer songs to another computer or relicense these songs after changing operating systems."

Yahoo says users can burn songs onto a regular audio CD and rip them back as an MP3 file without the copy-protection technology, but that requires time and blank CDs, and can result in a loss in quality.

Critics of digital rights management point to Yahoo's decision to end support for legally purchased music as yet another reason to push for tracks free of such limits, something the recording industry is starting to embrace.

Earlier, Microsoft Corp. backtracked from plans to shutter its MSN Music servers this year and agreed to continue authorizing music on new computers through at least 2011.

But Davis said Yahoo opted to shut down its system to avoid "delaying the inevitable."

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