Services & Software

Yahoo Music to offer refunds, what about MSN?

Yahoo is setting a new standard for music services that stop issuing authorization keys for songs sold that are laced with copyright protection software.

Yahoo Music is offering refunds to anyone who bought songs from the service. Is it time for MSN Music follow Yahoo's lead?

Yahoo announced last week that it would no longer issue authorization keys for the digital rights management, or DRM, software on its songs. This meant that anyone who bought songs from the service would still be able to hear their songs through its service but would be unable to move them to other devices or computers.

This did not play well with Web users. Now Yahoo Music plans to issue refunds and is trying to go one step further. If a customer would prefer music over a refund, Yahoo is looking for a way to give the customer copies of the purchased songs in the DRM-free MP3 format, according to a Yahoo representative.

Yahoo Music is transferring customers of Yahoo Music Unlimited to RealNetworks' Rhapsody service. These are both subscription music services, so Yahoo users who choose to make the move are unaffected. But those who purchased songs would be out of luck after September 30.

The question now is, has Yahoo Music raised the bar? Is it time for Microsoft to pony up with a refund for MSN users?

MSN Music shut down and announced that it would stop issuing DRM keys, only to change its mind last month and say it would continue issuing keys for another three years. As noted by Michael Spiegelman, Yahoo's senior director of music, Microsoft just delayed the withdrawing of support for songs.

A Microsoft representative could not be immediately reached.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for Internet users, has called on both Yahoo and MSN to issue refunds.