Walmart Decides To Honor DRM-Protected MP3 Purchases After All, At Least For Now

Last month, Walmart announced it was shutting down the DRM side of its online music store, and too bad if you were a customer, because they were also going to turn off the DRM server that authorized your music for playback. Apparently enough customers complained, because they came to their senses—at least for the time being—and decided to keep the server running. Read their email below.

NOTE: This is a follow-up to our email titled “Important Information About Your Digital Music Purchases” from 9/26/08.

Based on feedback from our customers, we have decided to maintain our digital rights management (DRM) servers for the present time. What this means to you is that our existing service continues and there is no action required on your part. Our customer service team will continue to assist with DRM issues for protected windows media audio (WMA) files purchased from

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.

We appreciate your support and patience as we work to provide the best service possible to you. 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.

Thank you for using Walmart MP3 Music Downloads.
The Walmart Digital Music Team

They could still turn it off in January, or next summer, or hell, the day after Thanksgiving next month, and we’re not naive enough to think Walmart will follow Yahoo’s footsteps and offer DRM-free replacement tracks, so take the extra time you’ve got to back up those tracks if you don’t want to be at Walmart’s mercy in the future.

“Walmart has a change of heart, decides to maintain DRM servers” [Engadget]


Edit Your Comment

  1. tande04 says:

    I love how with all of these high profile DRM shut downs the advice has always been, “oh just burn it then rip it again”

    So ah what is the point of DRM again?

    • socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

      Remember that if your getting something at say 192kbps your getting a lesser quality copy. Meaning its already compressed. So If your burning it your burning from a lower quality already, then re-ripping it without DRM and ripping it down and compressing it again.

      But DRM from what I understand is just to keep you from transferring the digital copy around because most people are too lazy to do the whole burn and re-rip thing. The average person would most likely just keep their PC for 5 years or so without formatting so no reason to make a hard copy like that.

    • Geekybiker says:

      @tande04: The analog hole exists for any DRM format. Basically if we’re able to hear or see the content, there is a way to rip it.

      The point is that you don’t get a 100% copy of the file using these methods. You have generational degradation just like back in the days people were trading tapes.

    • ~Ian~ says:

      @tande04: Maybe they want you to use up all of your blank CD’s burning the music so you’ll go to walmart and buy more lol

  2. LoreleiRadassical says:

    So, did anyone else notice they used “insure” when they meant “ensure”?

    You’d think they’d have copy editors.

  3. AnxiousDemographic says:

    It’s hardly a permanent fix: They’re just turning the licensing servers back on. They can be turned off when the brouhaha dies down.

    A real solution is a permanent one. Allow the consumers to replace the DRM’d versions with clean versions.

    I swear I didn’t used to be this cynical!

  4. JohnDeere says:

    if i am allowed to circumvent this drm why shouldnt i be allowed to circumvent all drm. i still think im not allowed to do this.

  5. El_Guapo says:

    They have altered the deal. Pray they don’t alter it further.

  6. ShadowFalls says:

    No, they won’t let you re-download replacement tracks… They won’t even let you re-download what you buy after 90 days…

  7. blackmage439 says:

    “…we’re not naive enough to think Walmart will follow Yahoo’s footsteps and offer DRM-free replacement tracks…”

    Right on. God forbid Walmart should have to pay to fix the problem they created.

    Despite moving into my first apartment, and trying to keep expenditures as low as possible, I am so glad I chose to not shop at Walmart. I hate these scumbags more than anything.

  8. axiomatic says:

    DRM is bad… mmmmkay? Don’t buy anything with DRM on it.

  9. FreemanB says:

    I thought this would happen. There’s too much at stake legally if they shut down the DRM servers for any company to risk it. The legal implications of a lawsuit stemming from such an action like this are what they are really afraid of. They don’t want to get in front of a judge and try to explain why they took away the ability for people to listen to music they purchased legally without losing audio quality.

    • magic8ball says:

      IANAL, so – is there any reason that WalMart couldn’t be sued or even prosecuted in criminal court for taking away something (music tracks) that the RIAA continues to insist has actual value? In other words, customers paid for the music, then WalMart took it away (when they initially shut down the servers) but kept the customers’ money. The product they offered instead (ripped and burned tracks) was degraded in quality, so not what the customer originally paid for; besides which, there are laws against circumventing DRM. How is WalMart not straight-up stealing from their customers when they turn off the servers?

  10. Mr_Human says:

    It’s like they’re asking people to pirate after burning them with these shenanigans; kind of the opposite of what they wanted.

  11. Cliff_Donner says:

    So, prior to this story, the lesson to be learned was “Don’t trust Wal-Mart* to provide you with any guarantee of usability once you walk away from the checkout stand (or internet equivalent)”.

    And, now that this story has broken, we should be assured that Wal-Mart* will stand behind their product — possibly, indefinitely, or perhaps not, until they again decide to abandon it?

    Got it.

  12. Cary says:

    Why would anyone pay for the 10% most significant bits of the music that’s crippled with DRM in the first place?

    Buy the stupid CD and throw away 90% of the music yourself. If you decide later that you really did want music rather than tinny noise resembling a toy bear you can listen to all the bits, or maybe only throw away 50%. Your choice.

    You’re getting what you deserve.

    • Kajj says:

      @Cary: I’m not quite sure if you’re complaining about song quality or recording quality, but quit being a cantankerous old coot. .mp3s are a perfectly valid format and there’s lots of good music being made today.

  13. GuinevereRucker says:

    You bought music from WalMart instead of Apple? I’m not sure why anyone would even think about doing this. Frankly I’m not surprised, we’re all used to this kind of crap from WM.

  14. P_Smith says:

    I’m not completely unsympathetic to Walmart’s customers demanding the ability to keep their MP3s active since they actually paid good money to get the music, but anyone knowledgeable enough to use devices capable of playing MP3s was also educated enough to read about the dangers. It was a common discussion when the devices were put on the market, and these people ignored good advice.

    Unlike the mortgage meltdown where it was the uneducated who were preyed upon by unscrupulous lenders, those who bought into DRM should have known better, and probably did know but didn’t listen.

    • TechnoDestructo says:


      If someone, even an educated, literate person, doesn’t follow news sources in a handful of relatively narrow fields (computers and electronics, law, music, consumer issues), there is no reason to expect them to have ever heard of this danger. It gets virtually no coverage in generalist publications or on TV.

      If someone knows of no danger, you cannot expect them to research the danger.

  15. quail says:

    On a side note, those pirate mannequins are awesome. During our summer travels my son and I came across the female one at a shop. The long stares my boy gave the girl pirate leads me to believe that puberty is well on its way for him.

  16. Adisah says:

    They either just need to keep the server running or give them DRM free versions of the songs that they already have. Or store credit for the same amount of songs or something like that. Instead, of your screwed…. were shutting off the severs on XX/XX/XX Sorry folks…