Digital Tunes Done Poorly

By on December 19, 2003 – Music Downloads was formally announced yesterday, and in typical Walmart fashion, they are undercutting the big boys in price — 88 cents a single and $9.44 an album.

But the service leaves much to be desired, as they will specifically exclude not only Mac users, but also the users of the el-cheapo Microtel Lindows machines they sell. The downloads are in Microsoft’s WMA format, and uses Media Player 9’s Digital Rights Management. That leads to restriction after restriction:

…one must download a song within 90 days of purchasing it or you forfeit access to the song; second, a song must be listened to at least once within 120 days of download or the file will be rendered unplayable. Also, while users are entitled to “back-up” their songs to up to two other computers, they can only actually play them on the original computer that downloaded the music. In fact, if you switch to a new computer and wish to move your purchased music to it, the only solution offered by Wal-Mart is to burn your music to an audio CD and then to play that CD in the new computer.

(from a MacObserver article.)

Funny thing is that even though Mac users can’t use the service, they use a screenshot from Internet Explorer on a Mac in their “Learn More” page!

As if there wasn’t enough about Walmart to dislike.



  1. What I love about DRM is that I can still burn the audio to disc. Hmm, what should I do with that disc? How about I stick it back in the machine and rip it to MP3? Digital duplicate, and no more DRM.

    Still, for the price difference of 16 cents per song, it’s hardly worth the trouble if iTunes has it available.

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