Rhapsody has announced that they will be shutting down their RAX DRM encumbered music system and that users will have until November 7, 2011 to convert any music downloaded before July, 2008.
On November 7th, 2011 Rhapsody/RealNetworks will no longer support certain music files you purchased before July 2008. These songs will continue to play after November 7th unless you change to a new computer or substantially update your current computer. However, we strongly recommend you back up these RAX tracks to audio CD to ensure you can continue to enjoy your music.
Once you take this small step, you can continue to play these tracks on your audio CD or rip them to any format you desire and play them on your PC.
Please don’t delay – after we shut off support for RAX files, you will not be able to play them if you move to a new computer or upgrade your operating system.
While Rhapsody is allowing its customers to back up and convert their music, it is not as easy as they claim. If you own a few tracks, it might by easy, but if you own hundreds or thousands of music tracks, it becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming task.
There is also a question of legality. While Rhapsody is telling people how to circumvent the RAX DRM, it may not legally be able to. According to US law, unless Rhapsody owns the copyrights to the songs that use RAX DRM, then they are actually aiding others in breaking the law.
Section 103 (17 U.S.C Sec. 1201(a)(1)) of the DMCA states:
Q No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.
(A) to 「circumvent a technological measure」 means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and
(B) a technological measure 「effectively controls access to a work」 if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.
In the closing of Rhapsody’s RAX DRM, we see, yet again, how the music industry is punishing those who wish to legally purchase digital music. There are so many of these companies that have shut down over the past ten years that it is difficult to fault those who turn to piracy. By doing so, users do not have to worry about the DRM. They also do not worry about making upgrades to their computers and risking the loss of their music. They also do not have to worry about the limits of how many computers they can keep their music on. They simply listen to their music where ever and whenever they want. After experiencing ten years of attempting to do the right thing only to be screwed over again and again, why would anyone want to return to unhelpful DRM schemes?