Originally Posted by William Campbell
Music downloads protected by DRM will only play on licensed hardware (how it keeps others from stealing it). This licensing (also known as 'activation') occurs when the file is purchased, and is keyed to characteristics of your hardware and system software. Other schemes involve a server on the internet (which will no longer exist), that is polled for verification that you are the owner of the content in question. Ebooks use similar schemes.
The problem is, for one, the servers will no longer exist, but likely as long as nothing else about your system has changed, the music will continue to play. However, if your system crashes and you reinstall the operating system, that is enough to break the scheme. And certainly, buying a new computer (almost a necessity every few years the way things are progressing), the scheme is similarly broken.
For ebooks, perhaps your reader breaks, or you buy a new, improved model. That is a conceivable scenario.
Up until now, when any of these events occurred, one could contact the retailer and "re-verify" your right to own the content, and go on your merry way. Napster is saying they will no longer support those purchases, and that includes any means to re-download or re-activate in the event of a system failure or upgrade. Now paying customers are left out in the cold.
It has everything to do with DRM. Imagine if half your ebooks suddenly became unreadable, and the retailer's response was, "Sorry, we're upgrading our technology and titles purchased before May 2008 are no longer supported. You will have to purchase new editions of those titles."
Yes, I see the problem now; thank you for explaining.
At least with eBooks, all the major DRM methods can be easily circumvented by the legitimate purchaser.