SpiralFrog folds, locks DRM

March 23, 2009 // 10:03 a.m.

Tags: #digital-download #digital-restrictions-management #digital-rights-management #drm #spiralfrog

Users of the ad-supported music site SpiralFrog are being warned that their music is likely to disappear in the next two months as the DRM kicks in after the company ceased operations last week.

According to a source talking to CNet, the digital rights management implementation used by the company will render all downloaded music unplayable sixty days after the site closes – leaving customers unable to play their song collections.

Industry pundits are blaming a lack of content – the company only managed to get Universal Music Group and EMI to sign contracts, with Sony Entertainment Group and Warner Music Group holding out – along with restrictive DRM in a time when its competitors were offering downloads free of artificial limitations on what customers could do. Owing $9 million to hedge funds and other creditors, the company simply wasn't able to shift enough advertisements to cover its costs and was forced to close.

This leaves the customers the company did have in an unenviable position – with a range of music which will shortly become nothing more than a waste of hard drive space. While the slim possibility of a resurrection remains – the company's assets are due for sale, and it's possible the administrators will consider selling SpiralFrog as a complete business – should another company take control and keep the DRM servers running, it's not looking good for anyone with a SpiralFrog account.

While users of the service never paid a subscription – with SpiralFrog relying on an advertisement-based model which saw its customers receiving free music downloads if they would agree to sit through a range of adverts – it's difficult to say whether a sixty-day grace period is generous or insulting. One thing's for sure – this sort of occurrence is only likely to turn people against DRM.

Do you believe that the SpiralFrog users had it good while it lasted, or should the company have unlocked the DRM before folding as a last gesture to its loyal customers? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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