Yahoo will not deliver new licenses

In April 2008, Microsoft was announcing that it was closing its MSN music service. As consequence, it announced that it would not anymore deliver licenses for purchased songs.This time, it is Yahoo music store that announces its closing end of September 2008.

Once more, user will loose their purchased songs if ever they change the computer, or even upgrade it. This is due to so called computer fingerprinting. The license is attached to the computer and not to the user. To attach it, the DRM embeds in the license parameters that are supposed to uniquely identify the computer, for instance mac address, serial number of the hard drive, of the OS, … This disables illegal duplication of the license. But as a consequence, if the user changes his/her computer, then the licenses are not any more valid. The user has to request new licenses to the DRM server for his/her new computer. This operation will not be any more supported.

Yahoo proposes two alternatives to its customers:

  • Reimburse the lost songs
  • Migrate the license to Rhapsody Unlimited service that will continue to operate.

Once more, this event will give arguments to the opponents of DRM. Is there any solution to this type of problem. In theory yes. The first onbe is the mythical DRM interoperability. It should be possible to migrate all the songs to another DRM seamlessly. A second one is to attach the license to the user and not to the computer. The notion of domain, initially defined by DVB-CPCM (and :Wink: SmartRight) and now adopted by OMA is a potential answer. The domain is linked to a user or a familly and not to a given device.

PS: Follow up of Microsoft story, In June, Microsoft announced that it would operate the license server until end of 2011. This is another solution.

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