Digital Rights Management, or DRM as it's better know, is an ugly technology that ends up doing far more to alienate legitimate consumers of media content than it does to stop the people who want to take content they didn't pay for. Case in point: here's an email I received from a Zune Thoughts reader last week...
"I just upgraded to Windows 7 from Vista, and it went smoothly. That is until I tried to sync my zune. Apparently many of the songs I purchased long ago from the zune marketplace were DRM protected WMA. Of those songs a number are now available only as MP3. Somehow my songs, which worked fine until I upgraded to Win7, are now useless files that won't play on my PC or sync to my zune. I called zune customer support and they told me that per Microsoft they are not allowed to credit me for songs that were once WMA and are now only available as MP3 because the content provider has changed. I am now stuck having spent money for music that is gone forever...It is incredibly hard to believe that they are refusing to help one of their customers out. I guess I am going to have to switch to using the Amazon MP3 store 100% of the time. The only reason I was purchasing from the zune marketplace to begin with was an effort to support Zune."
Can you believe that? We're not talking here about a DRM-laden store going away - a la MSN Music - we're talking about the Zune Marketplace's back-end music content shifting and burning customers in the process because the DRM-laden WMA files they purchased magically vanished and MP3s appeared in their place. I'm not aware of any simple way - or even a complex way for that matter - for users to export the DRM licenses for their Zune Marketplace-purchased content. So what does the Zune team expect people to do? Never switch computers, and never upgrade to Windows 7?
The good news here is that a few days after this person contacted me, he followed up to inform me that someone from the Zune Team contacted him and offered him song credits to fix this situation. That's great to hear, but it's clear the Zune Marketplace has a very screwed up system if this was allowed to happen in the first place.
DRM is a poison that's best avoided, and until the Zune Marketplace is 100% DRM-free, I'm not going to purchase songs from it. Amazon's MP3 store gets all my money right now. Where do you purchase your music from?