In the never ending struggle between corporations trying to screw over consumers in pursuit of the mighty buck, and consumers trying to protect their own rights, we consumers continually lose out (mainly because our government backs “content creators” to an insane degree). Now, the thing anti-DRM advocates have been warning about has happened – purchased DRM content has been rendered useless by the provider.

[Microsoft] has arbitrarily decided that all the music you bought from it is now worthless because it can’t be bothered to live up to its end of the bargain. It goes something like this, MS came up with a DRM infection and attached it to its music downloads. When the Zune came out, it decided it wanted a bigger piece of the pie, so it cut out all its partners.

The new toy, the Zune has a completely different DRM infection making any of the things you bought from Microsoft saddled by the old way incompatible with the new way. All the partners that made devices compatible with the old way, and all of the people who bought infected music, well, MS has your money, so you’re dumped.

This was about a year and a half ago. Today, MS is saying that come August 31, a week or four shy of the two-year anniversary of the night of long knives, you will not be able to re-authorise your music. That means that the music is yours to keep. On one PC. As long as it doesn’t crash. Or you don’t update your OS. Or something doesn’t just decide to stop the music playing. If you do any of these things, you just lost your music permanently.

Basically, MS is stealing from you. It has your money, but you can’t have access the services you bought any more. So they are stopping, and legally, you are screwed. Microsoft has got your money though.

That’s right – you bought the music, but the provider has now decided that if your computer dies, they’re essentially taking the music back… without a refund.

DRM isn’t about stopping piracy – it’s about controlling how legitimate customers use the media they’ve paid for. In fact, to watch a legally purchased DVD on an Linux computer, you have to violate the DMCA.

When I purchase something, I should be allowed to do anything I want with it, including making fair-use copies, short of distributing copies to other people. Ripping my entire DVD collection to hard drives to watch on my Linux PVR in order to avoid the normal handling wear (scratches, etc) does not infringe on the copyright of the content creators. In fact, such use should be protected by the law (as fair-use), not made illegal.

Hopefully this MSN Music debacle will alert the public to the pitfalls of DRM. We should be demanding better of both corporations whose products we purchase, and our elected officials, who should be protecting our interests.