Friday night topic: Your DRM experiences?

— 7:32 PM on April 21, 2006

I had my first real DRM debacle recently, after I added a second tuner to my HTPC, which runs Windows MCE, and in so doing corrupted the DRM info on the PC. This killed my ability to watch movies downloaded via MovieLink. I didn't know it was a DRM problem when I contacted MovieLink, and their support tech walked me through the process for resetting a system's DRM setup. When this procedure failed to resolve the problem, the tech essentially cut me loose, offering a refund and suggesting I work with Microsoft on a fix. I guess I'm done as a MovieLink customer.

Worse, I'd like to try another movie download service, but verifying the state of the machine's DRM setup is complicated by the fact that I own a total of two Windows Media-encrusted media files, both 88-cent specials from I tried backing up the licenses for those songs on my main PC and restoring them on the HTPC, which I believe is the correct way to transfer a license, but I had already done couple of license backups/restores on the HTPC during my earlier troubleshooting efforts. Windows Media Player dialed home via the 'net and then informed me that I had exceeded my daily restore limit. I would have to wait until the next day to try again.

Ack! What a pain. Have you had similar experiences with DRM-based services, or have things worked better for you?

The thing I really don't understand is the people who are building up multi-thousand-dollar music collections via iTunes and the like. You can only transfer a song to so many different computers before it hits the end of the DRM rope. This gives me visions of today's trendy media consumer having an ancient PC or three wobbling along in the corner 12 years from now, just to serve up a music collection whose songs are one step from DRM oblivion. God forbid that any hardware should fail, since replacing it would trigger a DRM apocalypse. Are millions of iPod owners already destined to face this ugly fate? Discuss.

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