Yahoo To Reimburse Customers Of DRM-Protected Music

People who purchased from Yahoo's soon-to-be-closed online music store will be offered coupons for MP3s from Rhapsody.
Yahoo on Wednesday released details of its plans to reimburse customers who bought music that can no longer be easily played as a result of the Web portal shutting down its online music store.

The Web portal said people having trouble playing music files with Yahoo's digital rights management technology could get coupons for an equivalent collection of MP3s from RealNetworks' Rhapsody music store. If this arrangement is unsatisfactory, then Yahoo will provide refunds. Both offers are available through Yahoo's customer-care service and expire Dec. 31.

"We believe this plan will provide a fair deal to consumers who have purchased songs through the Yahoo Music Unlimited service, and will assist users in making the transition beyond DRM to more flexible, reliable, and consumer-friendly digital media," the company said in a FAQ on the site.

Yahoo recently notified customers that it would shut down the servers that manage the copyright-protection technology embedded in the music files on Sept. 30. As a result, those files would no longer play if the user moved them to another computer or to a portable music player, or made changes to the operating system in the original computer.

Yahoo said in April that it would close its store and music subscription service and migrate the operations to Rhapsody. Only people who bought music from Yahoo will be eligible for reimbursement. Customers of its music subscription service will be transferred to Rhapsody.

Yahoo never made much of a dent in the online music market dominated by Apple's iTunes store. The portal's experience with shutting down its music store highlights the problem DRM technology can have on consumers. While Apple still uses the technology to ensure music can only be played easily on its iPod player, others, including, RealNetworks, and Napster, have switched to selling DRM-free music.