Understanding licensed files

Licensed files are digital media files that are secured with a license to prevent illegal distribution. The license specifies whether the license expires or how you can use the file. For example, a license can specify whether you can copy the file to a portable device. The terms of the license are entirely dependent upon the person or company that provided the file. Windows Media Player cannot play licensed files without a license.

There are different ways you can acquire licensed files, but the most common way is to download them from content providers (such as record companies). The content provider might issue a license when you download the file. Otherwise, when you play a file that you do not have a license for, Windows Media Player attempts to get one. You might have to register or pay a fee firstit depends on the content provider. If the Acquire licenses automatically check box is selected and the content provider does not require a fee or registration, the Player acquires the license without notifying you.

Another way to acquire licensed files is by copying CDs and using the Protect content check box. All the tracks you copy are created as licensed files, and licenses are issued at the same time. The license for copied CD tracks allows you to play the tracks on your computer, transfer the tracks to a non-SDMI-compliant device, and copy (burn) the tracks to a CD.

You can manage your licenses by backing them up. Windows Media Player copies your licenses to another location, and then if you lose your licenses, you can restore them from the other location. For example, if you reinstall or upgrade the operating system on your current computer, your old licenses do not work unless you restore them. Or, if you move licensed files to a new computer, you can restore the licensed files on the new computer. You are limited to restoring your licenses on four unique computers. If you format and reinstall Windows on the same computer, it is considered a unique computer for the purposes of restoring licenses. Microsoft tracks the number of times you attempt to restore licenses.


The following rules apply to licensed files:

You can play licensed files until the license expires. You are informed of the terms, if any, when you acquire the license. Contact the content provider if you have questions.

You cannot copy and share licenses among different computers. If you copy a licensed file to another computer or give a copy of the file to another person, you or the other person will need to acquire a new license for that computer (this process starts automatically when you play the file on the new computer).

You can use the Copy to CD or Device feature to copy licensed files to portable devices only if the license allows it.

Related topics

To view license details 

To back up your licenses 

To turn off content protection when copying CDs 

To stop acquiring licenses automatically 

About copyrights 

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