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Wal-Mart Closes Down DRM Operations, Makes Music Unplayable

September 29, 2008 4:52 PM ET

People who bought music from the Wal-Mart digital music store prior to February 2008 will soon be unable to access their music, thanks to the company's dismantling of its out-of-use DRM technology. "If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer," the company said in a statement. "This change does not impact songs or albums purchased after Feb 2008, as those are DRM-free." This makes sense to us and the majority of digital music-buying population, as DRM is bad and Wal-Mart is doing away with it, but tell that to anybody who invested in Wal-Mart's vast download store. No word yet whether Wal-Mart will allow consumers to replenish their digital music libraries with the DRM-free MP3s rather than forcing them to degrade in quality.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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