DRM protecting me from playing my new video clips

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 25 January 2007

This week one of the customer service team left a comment on one of my previous entries about having trouble buying digital music, which I thought was very pro-active customer service from them. I think it is a good thing for companies, especially those in the digital economy, to be looking at their online brand reputation, and where they feel it is necessary, passing comment. I mention this because I have had problems with another digital music purchase made via the 7digital store, although in this case I can absolve them of any blame themselves, but instead look to the way that the DRM has been implemented in the content I was purchasing.

I wanted to purchase two new tracks by Thom Yorke available on a site called "From The Basement". The site offers music videos that it says 'sets a new standard for music TV production':

"The show is beautifully filmed in high-definition at Maida Vale studios in London with live sound by producer Nigel Godrich. From The Basement has no host and no studio audience, instead the artist and their performance take centre stage."
20070125_basement.gif

The show allows the videos to be downloaded for 1.89£ each, in either iTunes or Windows Media Player formats. I was accessing the service over a wireless network, and first of all I tried to download the tracks using the iTunes installed on my laptop. I wasn't able to, though, without upgrading my copy of iTunes first.

20070125_thom-itunes.jpg

Since I was in an internet cafe I didn't really want to be paying for interent access that involved downloading and installing software and rebooting my machine, so I opted to try and download the Windows Media Player format instead. I'm pretty format agnostic, as my intention was to record the tracks to mp3 using Audacity before putting them on my iPod anyway.

This meant going through the "From The Basement" 7digital store, which, as I mentioned earlier, this time worked perfectly for me. I downloaded the two files, which was pretty quick considering they were video content, and left the internet cafe to go home and play my new purchases.

Which is where the problems began.

The files I bought, and paid for, will not play on the machine without dialling home to Microsoft first in order to obtain a security update. Although the FAQ on the site says that you need Windows Media Player series 10 installed to play the material, there is no mention in the purchase process that you might need to be online when you try to play the track for the first time.

Regular readers will know that since I live in an almost-always offline world outside of the office, this a common gripe of mine - applications and the people who build them taking a broadband connection for granted when designing their systems of purchase flows. If I try to play the videos I just get a dialogue box warning.

"The owner of the protected content you are trying to access requires you to first upgrade some of the Microsoft digital rights management (DRM) components on your computer.

Click OK to upgrade your DRM componentes.

When you click OK, a unique identifier and a DRM security file are sent to a Microsoft service on the Internet. The file is replaced with a customized version that contains your unique identifier.

This increases the level of protection provided by DRM"
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'This increases the level of protection provided by DRM' - well it sure does that, but at the moment, until I can get that laptop physically into a situation where it is able to go online again, the only thing being protected is me from playing the music I have purchased.

5 Comments

Hello again Martin,

It’s Chris, the customer service manager for 7digital.

The implementation of DRM on files, can be an interesting debate!

We would like to offer all the downloads we have in the audio formats we support, WMA, MP3, AAC and video formats WMV, WMV portable, MPEG4 we support unfortunately this is not possible.

The copyright owners of music, videos, film etc have a choice in how they would like to release there work to a digital platform. Most will only released in a protected format.

Unfortunately MP3/MPEG4 files cannot be protected and Apple own the rights to the AAC DRM protection technology and refuse to let other people use this technology, hence we cannot make everything available for Mac.

So WMA/WMV files are the only formats that we can DRM protected.

To play DRM files on a PC, Laptop you have to acquire the licence. Most of the time it is acquired automatically when the file is downloaded. Sometimes you need to manually acquiring it by entering your email and password you use on the store you brought the file from.

If your PC/laptop is not up to date with DRM components then you have to update it before you can play the files.

Either way you have to be connected to the internet to acquire the licence. Once you have acquired the licence for the download you can freely play the file without any internet connection. It’s just the initial process that needs an internet connection.

At the moment this is the only DRM protection we have. Anyway I hope you have been able to update your DRM components and got the videos working

Thanks,

Chris

Hello and Help Me

I have downloaded a video file in wmv format from a website. when i want to play it it is asking me to fill a form but i dont have credit card and relevent info. does that mean i m not able to view that video??
the size of file is 1.26mb and website never asked me any such info at the time of downloading.
Now please tell me the easiest way to play that video file.
I will remain grateful.
Regards,
FAHAD

Hello and Help Me

I have downloaded a video file in wmv format from a website. when i want to play it it is asking me to fill a form but i dont have credit card and relevent info. does that mean i m not able to view that video??
the size of file is 27.5 mb and website never asked me any such info at the time of downloading.
Now please tell me the easiest way to play that video file.
I will remain grateful.
Regards,
Hannan

this is why piracy is rampant. i just spent an hour trying to track down why netflix wont work and why i cant watch movies i downloaded from sites. the same reason some games i download and play for free (starforce) are now forcing me to simply go to usenet or torrent sites and download the movies for free. this is ridiculous this crap. reading the articles you have to update if someothing gets corrupted or if you change components on your computer. well f you all. im going back to torrents and usenet. it takes a little longer but not as much of a headache

Are you telling me that if I download a short clip that I want to watch and probably delete in a few days time without redistributing it. I need to pay for it?

As it is it costs me money to download the clip in the first place I find this ridiculous. Tell me this isn't happening. Shouldn't there be a warning or something that tells you that you will not be able to watch these clips without the licence?

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