Why Microsoft’s WMA File Format and Their DRM Sucks
Back when I first started ripping my CDs on my computer and before I really knew what I was doing I ripped a bunch of mine in WMA format. This is the default format that Windows Media Player rips your CDs in.
Shortly after beginning to rip all of my CDs I made the wise decision to change the default rips from Windows Media Player from Microsoft’s crappy WMA format to high bit rate mp3.
Unfortunately I am now a victim of Microsoft’s DRM. See the screenshots above for what I am talking about. I just got these two screenshots when trying to play a legitimate WMA file that I ripped from a CD that I owned. Maybe it’s because I upgraded my PC or maybe it’s because of something else, but the bottom line is I can no longer play this music file in WMA format.
While at first I thought that playing the file might be as easy as downloading a license from the page that Windows Media Player sent me to when refusing to play the file, unfortunately I got an error message (also documented above) that Windows somehow couldn’t get me the license because of some other problem associated with a Netscape browser. I’m using the Firefox browser which as one of the most common browsers in the world, you’d think you wouldn’t have to go through all this trouble.
DRM is bad. DRM cripples your rights as a consumer to listen to the music that you legitimately paid for. Fortunately I learned how crappy the WMA file format was early on and only a few hundred of my CDs were ripped in WMA format.
This is why I’ve never purchased a single song online and instead choose to rip my music from CDs that I purchase. No matter how well intentioned and easy music providers claim their DRM is, at some point you very likely will have trouble trying to play music that you legitimately purchased. Even if you can go online and research it and figure out a way to get the license or to convert your WMA files to mp3, it’s still a hassle that the consumer should not have to endure.
Do yourself a favor and make sure that you do not rip your CDs using Microsoft’s WMA file format, otherwise you may end up, like me, unable to play your own music.
Update: I just found that by cutting and pasting the url from the Firefox browser to the IE explorer browser that I was able to get the license that I needed and was able to play my song. Still, I don’t think that a consumer should have to jump through these hoops to play their legitimately purchased music.