My Experience With Digital Rights Management and Windows Media Player

Copyright 2003 - Angelo Bertolli

I'm basically writing this as a public service announcement to share with everyone my experience and frustration about Microsoft's forced DRM. Here's my story:

Easy CD Creator 4 (which came with my CD burner) stopped letting me create audio CDs. The system would pause for a while and then tell me that I didn't have a license for using that music, and tell me to choose "Unlock" from the "Track" menu to obtain a license. This was frustrating for two main reasons (besides the obvious): 1) it was blocking me from burning music I created myself, and 2) there was no such item on the "Track" menu!

The funny thing is, I had no problems (I was able to burn audio fine) as of March 2003, whereas it was either April or May when this weird message started popping up. I figured out pretty quickly that it was the OS interfering (Windows 2000, btw) and NOT something from the Adaptec (now Roxio) burning software. It seemed to be scanning the entire file, because longer files created longer pauses.

I scoured the internet for an answer--but I couldn't find one. I went to Roxio's site and asked around, and confirmed that it was Microsoft's doing. I figured it must have been in a Windows Update somewhere. I reinstalled my system and decided that I would be safe installing only up to Service Pack 3 (Windows 2000). I had no idea that this feature is installed with Windows Media Player 9. So I installed it again, and this nice DRM feature appeared again.

Even though they might state this when you install/upgrade this piece of software, I was never notified about this feature. Why? Because I had initially installed/upgraded to the beta version first which did not cause this problem. It seems Windows Update for WMP did it without even mentioning it.

My advice is not to install any DRM software from Microsoft. For one thing, uninstalling WMP 9 does not uninstall the DRM. In fact, I'm still looking for a way to get rid of it without doing a fresh install.

Update 2004

Since having this problem, I have gotten a new CD burner which includes new software: Nero 5. I don't seem to be having the same problem with Windows Media Player now, so maybe it was just an incompatibility, or something they overlooked when updating their dlls.