Yahoo Music DRM Keys Go Poof
That means new computers can't be authorized to play the tracks for which you paid, though you can continue playing them on your existing computer--while it lasts. To preserve them for a lengthier posterity, Yahoo recommends burning them to CD, then re-ripping them on the new PC. This will mean one unwanted conversion from Windows Media Audio to CD audio, then the optical disc recording, then another unwanted conversion to the new codec of your choice. Oh, and you'll need to re-acquire or re-type all the track metadata.
This Yahoo fiasco echoes a similar one just a few months ago, when Microsoft killed its original download store to make way for the new Zune Marketplace. Again, the encryption keys went poof, requiring users to use roundabout methods to preserve their investments in legally downloaded music.
All this illustrates why DRM is on its way out. Most major download services now offer non-DRM downloads, either as an option (iTunes) or in all tracks sold (Amazon, others). As Ars Technica's Nate Anderson observes: "The Yahoo news is just another depressing reminder of all the wasted time and energy put into these schemes designed to create roadblocks for legal users. At least the music business has gotten the message, and all four major labels and most indies now sell DRM-free online."
Addendum: Yahoo later announced it would provide either refunds or coupons to users stung by the DRM fiasco. The coupons would go toward re-purchases of the same songs from Yahoo partner Rhapsody in the MP3 format.