Fair Use Copy Prevention
August 09, 2002
Warning To Windows Media File Collectors: Your Music Will Die With Your Computer

A guy reformatted his hard drive and then found out none of his Windows Media files would work. Turns out that Windows Media Player turns the "copy protection" (copy prevention) on by default when it rips CDs, so when he reformatted his hard drive the player thought he was trying to play the copy protected files on a computer other than the one they had been licensed for.

Let me say this another way: when you rip CDs on a Windows machine using Windows Media Player, it makes a unique identifier for your computer (that has privacy implications, yes, but I'm trying to make another point here).

That unique identifier is associated with a license that is stored separately from the file itself that will only let those files be played back on the one single computer that matches the unique identifier. No other devices. Ever.

(Without a lot of hassle anyway -- Without having to backup and restore your licenses on the other computer -- or use Microsoft's Personal License Migration Service (PLMS) -- two processes that, to date, have performed less than dependably -- according to many a sad music collector....)

And it turns out there is a solution: turn it off! Change the settings on your player for now, and say "no" when it asks you about wanting copy protections (fair use copy preventions) in the future.

See the Guardian story by Jack Schofield:

When you first run Windows Media Player, it will ask if you want to keep copy protection on, and you can turn it off if you wish. If you missed that dialog box, it is still easy to turn off copy protection by going into the Tools|Options menu. Click on the Copy Music tab, and under Copy Settings, uncheck the 'Protect Content' box. In previous versions, this box was called the 'Enable Per sonal Rights Management' check box." Turning off copy protection would seem the best idea.

Text of article in case the URL goes bad:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4477138,00.html


Ask Jack

Send your questions and comments to Jack.Schofield@guardian.co.uk
Published letters will be edited for brevity but please include full details with your original query

Jack Schofield
Guardian

Thursday August 8, 2002

Catch WMP
I have been collecting music using Windows Media Player to copy from CDs. When I needed to reformat my hard drive, I copied all my files to CD-R, re-installed my operating system and copied them back, only to find my music would not play.
Rowan Burgess

Jack Schofield replies: Microsoft's web site says: "By default, Windows Media Player [7.x] is configured to protect content that is copied from a CD to your computer from unauthorized use by using Personal Rights Management. When this feature is enabled, each track that is copied to your computer is a licensed file that cannot be played on any other computer unless you backup and restore your licenses on the other computer."

Reformatting the hard drive has made your PC, in effect, a different computer. Since you did not back up and restore your licenses, there is no obvious way to play the protected files. However, Michael Aldridge, lead product manager in the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft in Seattle, says: "There is still a way to get these licenses back and it is pretty easy using our Personal License Migration Service (PLMS), [which] was designed to address the exact situation you outline. The customer just has to be connected to the internet, then they can automatically restore their licenses just by playing the music files in question.

Windows Media Player will recognise that the music had a license and will go out on the web and update their music files with new licenses. All this service does is note these files once had a license and provides a new one. No internet connection is required for playback after that. "If the reader is connected to the internet and this is still not working, it is most likely because they created their music collection with an earlier version of Windows Media Player (7.0) and then upgraded on top of that collection. We did anticipate this scenario and developed a tool to help them update their licenses: the Personal License Update Utility. This must be run before they upgrade their system or transfer their music files to a new PC.

If they don't use this utility they will need to re-create (re-copy) their music CDs into their music library on their PC. Find out more information about this process at www.microsoft.com/ "You can also choose to turn off copy protection when you create your music collection, which can be done easily in any version of [WMP7.x or later].

When you first run Windows Media Player, it will ask if you want to keep copy protection on, and you can turn it off if you wish. If you missed that dialog box, it is still easy to turn off copy protection by going into the Tools|Options menu. Click on the Copy Music tab, and under Copy Settings, uncheck the 'Protect Content' box. In previous versions, this box was called the 'Enable Per sonal Rights Management' check box." Turning off copy protection would seem the best idea.

Posted by Lisa at August 09, 2002 09:21 AM | TrackBack
Me A to Z (A Work In Progress)
Comments

Lisa,

I have been working on this for a while and can not seem to fix it:
I used to be able to play certain types of files (.asx for example) that are supported by Windows Media Player (version 7.0 / 7.1).
However after downloading Windows Media Player Beta version 9 these files will no longer play.
What gives? I downloaded codecs and have tried everything! Can you please help?
I am using windows 2000 OS.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Todd Hawkins
Atlanta, Ga
ppprovider@netzero.net

Posted by: Todd Hawkins on September 30, 2002 05:46 PM

Great info..I have been fretting for weeks that I might have to recopy all my CD's onto WMP. Turned off the protection and I still cannot play any of the previously recorded songs, probably due to copying them from an earlier version and then upgrading like you said Lisa. What should I do now??

dc

Posted by: David on January 9, 2003 12:42 AM

Great info..I have been fretting for weeks that I might have to recopy all my CD's onto WMP. Turned off the protection and I still cannot play any of the previously recorded songs, probably due to copying them from an earlier version and then upgrading like you said Lisa. What should I do now??

dc

Posted by: David on January 9, 2003 12:43 AM

No, not great info MS, you have damaged millions of users files intentionally. You are not the Big brother of the computer world and donít even try to be so. Instead of trying to control users and the content they have on their computers why donít you stick to making a non-corrupt software package. My suggestion is that all users that were affected by this file a Class Action law suit against this criminal behavior. My files were legit and took weeks to get onto my computer so I could have a music library. No manufacture has the right to ever corrupt data. Somebody please forward this info to MS that users want this problem fixed ASAP. Its bad enough you cant even uninstall the program.

Posted by: M on May 29, 2003 04:57 PM

No, not great info MS, you have damaged millions of users files intentionally. You are not the Big brother of the computer world and donít even try to be so. Instead of trying to control users and the content they have on their computers why donít you stick to making a non-corrupt software package. My suggestion is that all users that were affected by this file a Class Action law suit against this criminal behavior. My files were legit and took weeks to get onto my computer so I could have a music library. No manufacture has the right to ever corrupt data. Somebody please forward this info to MS that users want this problem fixed ASAP. Its bad enough you cant even uninstall the program.

Posted by: M on May 29, 2003 04:57 PM

lol, copy protection is corruption eh? An attempt by a company to at least give the OPTION to help enforece copyright law is an odd thing to call corruption. Don't get me wrong, I hate the feature and have it off, but all you have to do is glance though the options to realize that you probably don't want it. I mean if you are so concerned for your files that you would sue, surely you would read for five minutes to find out how your precious data would be handled by a program you CHOSE to use.

Posted by: Stephen on June 17, 2003 07:35 AM

haha he's right :P

Posted by: banana on July 11, 2003 06:53 AM

haha he's right :P

Posted by: banana on July 11, 2003 06:53 AM

why would you want to use windows media player when you get all of the hassles discussed above, rip you cd's using Exact Audio Copy (www.exactaudiocopy.de) and encode using Razorlame/Winlame. Ripping with windows media player is BS.

Posted by: stewy on August 4, 2003 10:49 AM

what the hell did you do now.dont try to mess around with us the music is ours.dont controll it for us please leave us alone.

Posted by: mooketsi on October 8, 2004 02:57 AM

here is a solution to DRM :
When you reinstall make another partition with FAT32 format and copy all your media into that partiton. Afterwards you can copy your media across to NTFS and do what you like after that. FAT32 has none of the user security info that NTFS has so DRM will not work, it works as I have used this method. There are plenty of great formating tools available or plain old fdisk. Don't upgrade WMP or use SP2 with XP and you will be fine, stick with SP1 and use 3rd Party security and media products. Just remeber FAT32 has no user restrictions, so suck it MS!

Posted by: AnthraxPants on December 7, 2004 10:43 PM
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