Xbox 360 digital rights management

DRM frequently asked questions

This page answers frequently asked questions about digital rights management (DRM) and Xbox 360.

Note If you have questions about DRM and your computer, see You may be unable to play protected content after your computer hardware changes in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

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What is "digital rights management"?

Content providers such as the Xbox Store use digital rights management technology to control the usage and distribution of games and other content. This content is protected by media usage rights that allow specific uses of that content.

You receive a licence to use content when you purchase that content. The licence has two parts:

  • The system licence. This licence applies to the gamertag that purchases the content.
  • The local licence. This licence applies to the console to which you first downloaded the content.

Can I transfer a content licence from one Xbox 360 console to another?

Yes, you can transfer content licences to a different Xbox 360 console. However, you can only transfer a licence once every four months.

If you purchased a new console or had your console repaired, use the licence transfer option on your new console. Here's how:

  1. On your new console, sign in to Xbox Live using the gamertag that you used to purchase the content.

    Need to find your Microsoft account or password? See the Lost Account Solution or the Lost Password Solution.

  2. Go to settings, and then select Account.
The main settings screen on the Xbox 360 Dashboard, with the Account tile selected
  1. Go to Your Billing Options and select Licence Transfer.
  2. Follow the instructions to transfer the content licences.
  3. After you transfer the licences, download the content again to update the local licences. For information about how to do this, see How to re-download previously downloaded or purchased content to your Xbox 360.

Other profiles can now use content on your console. You can also use the content when you’re not connected to Xbox Live.

What is protected content?

Protected content is any game, video or add-in that uses DRM. You must have the content licence to play DRM-protected content.

Examples of protected content

  • Games
  • TV programmes
  • Films
  • Music videos
  • Game add-in content

What is a licence?

A licence lets you use protected content. Another name for a licence is media usage rights.

How does the Xbox 360 console use licences?

Your Xbox 360 console checks whether you have a valid licence when you try to use DRM-protected content. You can't use the content if the console doesn’t find a valid licence for it, or if the licence doesn't allow the action. Typically, you'll see an error message that explains the issue.

How do I get licences for content?

Content licences are downloaded when you download content. You can view the download history on your Xbox 360 console and redownload that content to refresh a missing or corrupted licence.

Note You must first use the licence transfer tool. Then, use these steps to transfer licences to a new console.

Can I transfer film and TV programme licences?

Unfortunately, you can't transfer film and TV programme licences to a different console because of licensing restrictions.

What is a "roaming" Xbox 360 console?

The term “roaming” means using content that you purchased on one Xbox 360 console on a different Xbox 360 console. For example, you download a game from the Xbox Live Games Store to the hard drive on one console. Then, you attach that hard drive to a different console. When you attach the hard drive to the second console and sign in to Xbox Live, you can play the game without any restrictions.

Note You must use the profile that purchased the content to sign in to Xbox Live.

Why can't I view, play or use previously downloaded content?

Can I transfer content from one Xbox Live account to another?

No. Content licences are stored in the Xbox 360 console rather than in the Xbox Live account.

To let someone else use the content licence, you must download your Xbox Live profile to their Xbox 360 console. Then, transfer your content licences to that Xbox 360 console.

After you transfer your content, other profiles can use the content on that console.

Why do I get the error message "This item cannot be transferred between profiles" when I try to transfer content to a different profile?

You can't transfer some items that are stored on your Xbox 360 console from one profile to another. For example, you can't transfer Xbox Live Games Store content to a different profile. If you can't move an item to a different profile, download the item using the second profile just like you did with the original profile.

Note You must re-create some items in the second profile. For example, you must re-create a saved game under the second profile.

Why can't my friend play the games I downloaded to his/her console?

The licence for content you purchase is for a single account or a single console. After you purchase and download an Xbox Live game, anyone in your household may use it. You can install and play the game on other consoles. However, only the account that purchased the game can play it. A friend can't play the game using his or her own account. To do so, your friend should purchase the game using his or her own Xbox Live account.

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