Services & Software

EFF applauds Yahoo Music for reimbursing customers

Yahoo Music's decision to offer refunds to customers who bought DRM-wrapped music is an important precedent for anyone dealing in copy-protected media.

Yahoo Music earned kudos from one of the Web's most outspoken advocacy groups on Monday.

The music service, which has opted to get out of music retail and subscription services, is offering to reimburse customers who bought music from Yahoo Music Unlimited. The decision follows the company's controversial announcement last week that it will no longer authorize keys that allow users to transfer music to new PCs or devices starting October 1.

Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation called on Yahoo to offer customers refunds. Now that the company has, EFF is happy. "EFF applauds Yahoo's decision," said Corynne McSherry, an attorney for the group.

And surprisingly, EFF doesn't necessarily want Microsoft to also offer refunds. After Microsoft shuttered MSN Music, the company announced last spring that it would stop issuing DRM keys. After being criticized, Microsoft decided to continue supporting its music for three more years. McSherry said that Microsoft's decision ensures that customers get what they paid for. That's all EFF wanted.

"In both cases, each of the companies has been forced to acknowledge they must do right by their customers," McSherry said. "I do hope that any other vendor (selling DRM-protected media), learns a lesson. They all must live up to the conditions that they set when they sold their music."

McSherry pointed out the differences in Yahoo's and Microsoft's approaches. Yahoo has decided to "tear off the band-aid." Yahoo's approach allows the company "to break free of DRM much faster," McSherry said.