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Yahoo rethinks, offers refunds for DRM-wrapped songs

Yahoo_music_logo One week after notifying customers that it would soon stop supporting the DRM-wrapped songs they had purchased, Yahoo has offered to make whole anyone concerned about a loss of tunage. That's quite a concession, yet it's not a huge surprise -- shortly after Microsoft made a similar decision to shut down MSN Music's DRM servers, it reversed course and said it would keep the servers plugged in for at least three more years. Could it be that two of the world's most powerful Internet companies actually listen to the EFF?

Here are the details, according to the Associated Press: customers who bought downloadable tracks from Yahoo's defunct music service can obtain coupons that they can redeem for replacement MP3 files at Rhapsody, the RealNetworks-MTV joint venture that took over Yahoo's subscription music service. If a coupon doesn't cut it for you, Yahoo may be willing to cough up an actual refund.

My previous post on this issue has provoked an often hilarious exchange between DRM critics and advocates, one of whom dismembers my arguments in unusually vivid terms. Not that it takes a surgeon's skill to do so, but it's still pretty entertaining.

UPDATE: Carrie Davis at Yahoo provided these nuggets of detail: if you're looking for a coupon or a refund, contact Yahoo's Customer Care department. There's no need for proof of purchase. The offer expires at the end of the year. By the way, coupons can be redeemed for any track at Rhapsody, not just the ones the customer purchased from Yahoo. Sounds like a chance to trade in all those disappointing Jimmy Eat World tracks for some Deastro!

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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