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About DRM-protected music and video in the Zune software and Xbox Music

Note As of November 15, 2015, the Zune service has been discontinued. This may cause errors when attempting to stream or download content or update the service. For more information, see the Zune retirement FAQ.

Overview

Typically, media you download from an online service is protected with Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Protected media comes with a license containing media usage rights that specify how you can use the content. For example, media usage rights for a song might allow you to play the song on one computer and sync it to a certain number of devices, but might prevent you from burning the song to a CD or playing it on a different computer.

Learn more about DRM-protected media and how it works with Xbox Music and the Zune software.

On this page

DRM and Zune Marketplace

Note Zune Marketplace not available in all countries or regions.

Some media you purchase from the Zune Marketplace is protected, and purchased media often comes with a permanent license. However, MP3 files are "DRM-free," which means they’re not DRM-protected, and there are no restrictions on how these files are used or distributed.

To find out whether songs are DRM-protected

  1. In the Zune Music + Video software, go to Collection, then Music, and then click Songs.
  2. Right-click the column header area and click Choose Columns.
  3. Select Content Type to display the type of content next to each song (for example, files without DRM restrictions are listed as "DRM-Free").

To find out whether videos are DRM-protected

  1. In the Zune Music + Video software, go to Collection, then Videos, and then click All.
  2. Click the Videos heading until it says Videos By Content Type to list your videos by
  3. type of content.

DRM and Xbox Music Pass

Note Music Pass and Zune Marketplace not available in all countries or regions.

All music that you download as part of an Xbox Music Pass (which includes Zune Music Pass) is DRM-protected. While your pass is valid:

  • You can download music to your computer and sync music to your Zune player or Windows Phone.
  • You can play music using Xbox Music Pass an unlimited number of times.
  • You can’t burn music to CD.

Licenses

Licenses need to be updated periodically, so be sure to connect the computer that has your Xbox Music Pass items to Zune Marketplace at least once every two weeks so that Zune Music + Video can refresh your licenses. If you sync protected songs to a device, you'll need to sync periodically to refresh those licenses as well.

If your licenses expire, you won't be able to listen to the protected songs until you restore the media usage rights. For example, if your Xbox Music Pass lapses, the licenses for Xbox Music Pass items will expire, and you'll need to renew before you can play your music using an Xbox Music Pass again.

More about media usage rights and Zune Music + Video

Note Zune Marketplace not available in all countries or regions.

In most cases, the Zune Music + Video software downloads media usage rights for you. In case it can't, the software will let you know what your options are. Just follow the instructions displayed.

  • If Zune Music + Video can't do something, it will display an error or an information button next to the protected song or video. When you see one of these buttons, click it or rest your mouse pointer over it to get more information.
  • If Zune Music + Video directs you to Zune Marketplace, you might need to enter your account name and password to proceed. Zune Marketplace might need you to update your billing information or pay a fee to download additional usage rights, such as the right to burn a song to CD.
  • If you get an error message that says you don't have the media usage rights for a song, you can restore the rights from Zune Marketplace, provided that you purchased or downloaded the song from Zune Marketplace and had the rights before.

Content usage rights for Zune Marketplace

Note Music Pass and Zune Marketplace not available in all countries or regions.

Usage rules for content that you purchase

  • By default, DRM-protected content purchased from Zune Marketplace is allocated five computer licenses per subscriber and unlimited device syncs. In some cases, additional licenses may be available if you use all five default licenses. To obtain additional licenses for content, contact Xbox Support.
  • A license will automatically be used in the following scenarios:

    • The content is downloaded and played on a computer for the first time.
    • Significant hardware changes are made to the existing computer.
    • The Windows Media DRM components are reset.
  • You’re authorized to burn (copy) DRM-protected purchased music and playlists that contain DRM-protected purchased content to a CD or to a DVD for personal, non-commercial use only. There’s no limit to the number of times that you can burn a single song; however, you’re authorized to burn the same playlist a maximum of seven times.
  • Note The MP3 format doesn’t include DRM and therefore doesn’t include these restrictions.

  • TV videos:
    • Can’t be burned to a CD or DVD.
    • Don’t include “send rights” between devices.
    • Can’t be streamed from a device to an Xbox 360 console.

Usage rules for content that you obtain by using an Xbox Music Pass or a Zune Music Pass

  • With a Zune Music Pass, you can stream or download content and sync your library to a maximum of three authorized computers or devices.
  • With an Xbox Music Pass, you can stream or download content and sync your library to a maximum of four authorized computers or devices.
  • You must sign in to the Zune Marketplace at least once every 30 days to update the digital licenses associated with each piece of Music Pass content.
  • If you transferred Music Pass content to a Zune device, you must connect the device to an authorized computer and sign in to the Zune Marketplace to update the device at least once every 30 days.
  • You can play subscription content only as long as you have a Music Pass. If your pass lapses, you can’t play any Music Pass content that you previously downloaded.
  • You can’t burn subscription content or playlists that contain Music Pass content to a CD. However, you can purchase content from the Zune Marketplace separately.
  • MP3s are not available for download by using an Xbox Music Pass.

Note Purchased content does not expire when your subscription ends.

For more information, see Xbox Live Terms of Use (which includes Zune terms).

For more information about the topics discussed in this article, press F1 on the keyboard when the Zune software is running to view the Zune Help file.

Frequently asked questions

Note Music Pass and Zune Marketplace not available in all countries or regions.

What is DRM?

DRM is Digital Rights Management. DRM technology is used by content providers, such as online stores, to control how digital music and video files are used and distributed. Online stores sell and rent DRM-protected music and videos that have media usage rights to enable specific use of the content. The Zune Music + Video software, Zune devices, and Zune Marketplace support and use Windows Media Digital Rights Management.

What is a protected song or a protected video?

A protected song or video is a file that uses DRM protection. To play the protected song or video, you must have the media usage rights for it.

Does Zune play all protected files?

No. The Zune software and devices only play protected music files from Zune Marketplace.

What are media usage rights?

Media usage rights, also known as licenses, are permissions to use a protected song or a protected video in a particular way. Content providers can specify in the media usage rights how you can use the protected content that you obtain from them. For example, Zune Marketplace can grant the following media usage rights for content:

  • Play right - The right to play content on a computer.
  • Burn right - The right to burn content to a CD or to a DVD.
  • Sync right - The right to sync content to your Zune device.
  • Send right - The right to send the content to another Zune device.

Examples of DRM-protected content in the Zune Marketplace

  • Music in .WMA format
  • Xbox Music Pass content
  • TV video

Examples of DRM-free content in the Zune Marketplace

  • Music in .MP3 format
  • Music and video podcasts

What is a license?

A license is another name for media usage rights. By default, DRM content that’s purchased from the Zune Marketplace is allocated five computer licenses and unlimited device syncs. In some cases, additional licenses may be available if you use all five default computer licenses. To obtain additional licenses issued for content, you must contact Xbox Support. A license is automatically consumed in the following scenarios:

  • The content is downloaded and played on a computer for the first time.
  • The operating system is reinstalled on a computer.
  • Significant hardware changes are made to the existing computer.
  • Your DRM component is reset.

Are media usage rights stored in the music or video file?

No. Media usage rights are stored on the computer separately from your music or video files.

How does the Zune software use media usage rights?

When you try to use a protected song or a protected video, the Zune software checks whether you have valid media usage rights for that file. If the media usage rights let you perform the action, Zune performs that action for you.

If Zune does not find valid media usage rights for the file, or if the rights do not let you perform the action, Zune does not perform the action. Typically, you receive an error message that states why the action was not performed. You can also check the properties of the file in the Zune software to view the content’s DRM rights.

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