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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

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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