DRM or — “Digital Rights Management” for the blissfully unbroken — is a dream stuck in Hell and is also the facockta name Microsoft has branded its media licensing initiative and it means if, like me, you choose to rent your downloaded music, instead of purchasing it or stealing it, your life is currently miserable. 

When you use a music subscription service like Napster or Yahoo! Music Unlimited or Rhapsody
you are required to play with DRM. DRM encodes a license so you can use
.WMA music files on your computer and on your portable music player.
The DRM license is coded to you and to your machine so no one else can
pirate the music you download and that is an excellent and noble idea.
The problem is DRM doesn’t work very well and if DRM isn’t working you
cannot play your music because if your license is corrupt or expired
you get cut off from your music like a pirate trying to play with
things that are no longer yours.
I support artists who want to be paid for their music.

Swapping CDs or
downloading music in torrents is stealing. I despise iTunes. I lost a
lot of money buying music there but could never recover my library for
use on another machine once I downloaded it no matter how many times I
backed up my libraries. iTunes were forgiving, for awhile, and let me
re-download my entire library three different times. It took three days
of constant downloading on a 3MB DSL line to retrieve my library each
time. It was a hassle to get my library back and, so, I stopped asking
iTunes for access to the music I had paid for but no longer had access
to for enjoyment.

In my line of work I get a new computer system twice
a year so being able to move my library from one computer to another
was important, but impossible, with iTunes.
I love the notion of paying a monthly fee to access thousands of songs
I might want to download or just steam via the internet. I don’t want
to locally store all those songs anymore. I just want to pick what I
want to hear and maybe download 500 songs instead of 10,000 songs.
Right now my music rental service is Yahoo! Music Unlimited and there
are problems. My DRM license keeps expiring after a “beta update” for
the service a week ago so the music on my new replacement iRiver h10 portable jukebox
will not play.

I logon to Yahoo! Music Unlimited to download a song or
two to “refresh” my license as the online Yahoo! no-helpline suggests
and nothing happens. The only way to get music to play on my device is
to erase all the songs on my h10 and re-synchronize with the Yahoo!
service. That is getting old and it takes forever to copy over all
those songs.
Today I was informed by my Yahoo! Music Unlimited software that all my
previously downloaded music had expired on my computer as well as on my
h10. Huh?

Not possible according to the terms of my subscription.
What’s the workaround for that? Well, the only solution I can find
appears to be to delete all my downloaded songs from my computer and my
iRiver h10 and then “acquire” a new DRM license and re-download all my
music again!
It’s madness, I tell ye and iTunes are looking better every day!
Now I’m stuck. My portable player is blank without songs.

My Yahoo!
Music Unlimited is blank without songs. I have no idea why my DRM
license keeps getting corrupted. If I start downloading again will my
DRM license hold and then work longer than three days or will I have to
erase everything and re-download everything again?
I don’t care if Yahoo! Music Unlimited is in Beta — Yahoo! took my
money for the service — Beta testing is free because it is unstable,
so Yahoo! can’t get out of this problem by claiming their product isn’t
a “release version” unless they want to refund my money first.

I’ll let you know if Yahoo! ever answers my plea to “have my account
reset” for a third time in less than a week so I can have the honor of
re-re-re-re-acquiring my new facockta Digital Rights Management license
and the beautiful music it holds captive.


  1. As a lifelong Apple user, I’m devoted to iTunes, but it does sound like your situation would be a bit of a pain. I did lose a lot of purchased music about a year ago when the hard drive in my iMac bit the dust, but now I make sure that I put all my purchased songs on my iPod. Of course, the whole DRM thing would drive me crazy. If I like a song, I want to keep it. I wouldn’t want to “rent” music.

  2. Hi Carla!
    If you write to iTunes support and tell them you lost everything and your backup library will not load, they will, in my experience, let you re-download all your music as long as you promise never to ask them again. 🙂
    I was never able to get into Apples. My fear is, and was, that they will disappear in a year and I’ll be stuck without a machine that I know how to operate.
    I have all my purchased music on my iPod and it is impossible to transfer the music on your iPod back into iTunes on a new machine. It either won’t happen or the new iTunes install will delete all the songs on your iPod. I know because it all happened to me.
    Since I have strange tastes in music that vary from hour to hour, sometimes there are songs I want to hear once and never again, so renting is, for me, cheaper and more convenient in the long run.

  3. FYI.
    I just received this complicated response from Yahoo! Music Unlimited support to “correct” my problem. The trouble is, I already did all this on my own. Oh, if they’d only read my message for help before they auto-reply. Perhaps this will help you if you are having DRM trouble elsewhere…
    Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Music Unlimited.
    My recommendation would be to delete your DRM directory, recreate these licenses and retransfer the content to your device.
    In order to correct this problem, please follow the below steps.
    1. Close the Yahoo! Music Engine and any other open applications.
    2. Turn on the Show hidden files and folders option in Windows. The
    following steps may be slightly different depending on your operating
    – Start Windows Explorer.
    – Click “Tools”.
    – Select “Folder Options”.
    – Click the “View” tab.
    – Within the “Advanced Settings” box”.
    – Under “Hidden files and folders”, select “Show hidden files and
    folders” (if it is not already selected).
    – Uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files” checkbox.
    – Click the “OK” button.
    3. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the DRM folder on your hard
    This folder is typically located in the following directory (as
    appropriate to your operating system), where the letter C indicates the
    drive on which Windows is installed:
    Windows XP and Windows 2000:
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\
    TIP: You can copy the path above and paste it into Internet Explorer
    Address bar to go right to the folder.
    4. Rename the DRM folder to DRMBACKUP. To do so, please do the
    – Right-click the DRM folder, and select “Rename”.
    – Type DRMBACKUP, and then press ENTER.
    – Minimize this Windows Explorer.
    5. Once this is done, you will able to license your Yahoo! Music
    Unlimited Downloads tracks for burning, playback and transfer to
    supported devices. To license the tracks, please do the following:
    – Open the Yahoo! Music Engine.
    – Log in to your Yahoo! Music Unlimited account.
    – Play your purchased track again to obtain the proper license.
    Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.
    Yahoo! Customer Care

  4. i purchased some songs the other day at home and sent them to myself thruogh email so i can play them on another computer, but it says “license acquisition” and i already bought it though…is there any way around this?

  5. I don’t think there’s a way around this, greg.
    As I understand it your DRM license is machine-specific so you need to manage your music on the machine on which it is purchased.

  6. David-
    First of all, are you the same David Boles that worked at Broadslate in Dayton, OH?
    Second of all, I am helping a friend try to recover some purchased music from iTunes. He purchased it on one machine and recently got rid of the computer and got a new one, without realizing he had to back up his music. Is there anyway he can recover the purchased music from iTunes again?

  7. Hi Kevin —
    No, I’m not that “David Boles.”
    Have your friend write to iTunes and beg them to let him re-download all his music. They will reprimand him and, usually, give him one more shot at downloading his catalog again.

  8. Hi David, I was wondering if you could help me out. I own a Rio Carbon and have been using it to download music from Napster to Go for a few months now.
    I just downloaded the latest version of Napster and it says I need to reformat the Carbon, so I did but it still says to reformat it. It says my DRM was corrupted. I’ll try your method that you used for Yahoo but do you have any other advice for me?

  9. I fear I have no help for you, Carl.
    Talk to Rio or Napster. They are the ones who need to help you.
    I went back to buying my music on iTunes. It’s a much simpler solution than dealing with DRM.
    Good luck!

  10. Carl:
    I also have a Carbon and, like you, I encountered the same problem. I emailed them after trying to reformat my player three times. I already backed up my files and still nothing. I will post if I get the problem solved!

  11. I just received this email from Napster:
    Thanks for contacting Napster support.
    We apologize for the inconvenience, due to the recent release of Napster 3.7 a few customers have had issues with their installation. We feel that your questions would be best answered by a conversation with a live customer support agent.
    Please contact our free Customer Support line at 1-800-839-4210.
    Live Customer Support is offered Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.
    When responding on this issue, please reply with email history or copy the entire body of this email and paste it into your reply to ensure that all information is retained. Not providing the email history could delay our response time.
    Thanks for using Napster!
    David G.
    The Napster team

  12. Carl / Karen,
    You can get round the Rio Carbon DRN issue by downloading and installing the Beta version of Windows Media Player 11. Install WMP 11 and restart your PC. Also make sure that your Carbon is in MTP mode.
    Good luck

  13. I purchased a monthly subscription to Urge on Windows Media Player 11 Beta. I really enjoyed using the player as it’s very easy to manuever around. I even purchased several songs from Urge and downloaded them. I was very happy with the whole setup until 3 months into my subscription I tried to log into my account on Urge and got a message that said “DRM corrupted please contact Urge or Microsoft for help.” I called customer support and spoke with a rep who couldn’t speak proper english and after a couple of attempts at fixing the problem just gave up. Was supposed to get email instructions and never received the email. I’m not sure what I did/didn’t do and the rep couldn’t tell me either. I then did some surfin and came across your site. To say this experience has been frustrating would be an understatement. I think I’ll end up cancelling my subcription if this is what I’ll have to go through to restore my music.

  14. Hi Michael!
    I think you’re right to run from DRM. It appears to have struck you as it struck me and it left your music dead in the water — or floundering in the ether — whichever horrible striking metaphor you prefer.
    I guess it’s best to either rent-to-stream your music live via something like Rhapsody on the web or just buy your songs and own them via a service like iTunes.
    Good luck!

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