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Windows Media Player 9 Series
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Windows Media Player 9 Series Privacy Statement

Last Updated: December 2003

Microsoft is committed to protecting your privacy. To help you make an informed choice regarding your privacy, Microsoft publishes privacy statements that disclose what information is collected, how that information is used, and what privacy controls exist.

This privacy statement applies to Windows Media Player 9 Series; it does not apply to other online or offline Microsoft websites, products, or services. Other Microsoft websites, products, and services may have their own privacy statements.

To ensure you make an informed choice right from the start, the first time you launch Windows Media Player you will be asked to set some important privacy options. To learn more about this per user "first run" privacy experience, please see the "More information about privacy options" section in the Help included with Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player at no time requests from you any "Personally Identifiable Information" (information that personally identifies you, such as your name, address, and phone number). However, there are occasions when unique machine-identifying information is transmitted across the Internet. The sections below describe these scenarios in more detail.

The following topics will be covered in this privacy statement:



What Personally Identifiable Information Does Windows Media Player Gather?

Windows Media Player does not collect any Personally Identifiable Information from you.

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What Information Does Windows Media Player Send Across the Internet?

Windows Media Player has tightly integrated Internet capabilities in order to provide you a rich set of features, such as the ability to play streaming media content or create an enhanced playback experience. What information Windows Media Player sends across the Internet depends on the feature being used and what privacy controls have been set. Key features of Windows Media Player are examined in the following sections.

If you do not want Windows Media Player to access the Internet:
  1. On the File menu, click Work Offline.
Note: A number of features of Windows Media Player are unavailable when working offline, such as the Media Guide, Radio Tuner, playback of streaming media, and gathering related media information for your content. This setting is made through Internet Explorer and will therefore affect other software that may be using Internet Explorer to access the Internet such as Microsoft Outlook and 3rd party applications.

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Communication with Streaming Media Servers

One of the primary functions of Windows Media Player is to playback content that is streamed to you over a network. To provide this service, it is necessary for Windows Media Player to communicate with a streaming media server. These servers are typically operated by non-Microsoft content providers, and are not under Microsoft's control.

During playback of streaming media, Windows Media Player will send the streaming media server a log. Typically, content providers generate statistics from the logs to help them improve the quality of their service. Other uses include billing and advertisement tracking. The content provider may instruct Windows Media Player to simultaneously forward the log to additional sites. It is the responsibility of the content provider to disclose to you whether the logs are shared with 3rd parties and how the logs are used.

The log includes such details as: connection time, IP address, OS version, player version, player identification number (Player ID), date, protocol, and so on. The purpose of the Player ID is to allow content providers to identify your connection. If a unique Player ID is sent, content providers will have the ability to correlate the information in your logs over multiple sessions.

To protect your privacy, by default Windows Media Player will send an anonymous Player ID which is comprised of two components: a well known static value and a randomly generated number which changes each time you request content from a streaming media server.

Some content providers may require you to send them a unique Player ID in order to access their content or services.

To send a unique Player ID:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, set the Send Unique Player ID to Content Providers check box.
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WindowsMedia.com

WindowsMedia.com, a Web site operated by Microsoft, is tightly integrated into Windows Media Player. The Media Guide and the Radio Tuner are Web pages provided by WindowsMedia.com. All the CD audio data, DVD data, radio presets, and the information in the Info Center View come directly from WindowsMedia.com. Other services provided by WindowsMedia.com include Player updates and download support for CODECs, skins, and visualizations.

When you visit WindowsMedia.com via Windows Media Player, the name of the OEM that manufactured your system may be sent to the site. This allows WindowsMedia.com to customize your experience with OEM-specific content that may be of interest to you (e.g. the Media Guide, Radio Tuner, and Info Center View hosted by WindowsMedia.com may include special promotions or upgrades designed for your system).

Like most Web sites, WindowsMedia.com maintains a log of all requests that are sent to it along with the sender's IP address. The log will include your WindowsMedia.com cookie if cookies are enabled for the site. For detailed privacy information about WindowsMedia.com, please see the WindowsMedia.com privacy statement. For more information on cookies, and how to control them, please see the Cookies section below.

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Enhanced Playback of CDs and DVDs

To enrich your experience when playing CDs and DVDs the Player can download and display related media information about your content such as the album title, album art, song title, DVD title, artist, composer, and other information. For CDs and DVDs, the Player sends an identifier for the CD or DVD to a service operated by WindowsMedia.com. If related media information is found for the content, WindowsMedia.com will send the information back to your computer, where it will get stored in your Media Library. Storing the information in your Media Library allows it to be displayed even when you are off-line. Before accessing the Internet, the Player first checks if the related media information is already stored in your Media Library. If it is, the stored information is used. Related media information may not be available in your local language.

Note that this option also applies to Windows Media Audio files that have been copied from CDs using the Player. These files contain an identifier for the CD and the Player will update these files with the downloaded related media information.

To prevent the Player from requesting related media information for CDs and DVDs from the Internet, and to prevent your Windows Media Audio files that have been copied from CDs from being updated:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, clear the Retrieve media information from the Internet for CDs and DVDs check box.
To remove the related media information stored in your Media Library:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, click the Clear CD/DVD button.
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Enhanced Playback of Digital Music Files

Like the enhanced playback of CDs and DVDs above, the Player can download and display related media information for digital music files (e.g. WMA and MP3 files). Information about the digital music file is sent to WindowsMedia.com in an attempt to identify the content. If related media information is found for the content, it will be downloaded to your computer and stored in your Media Library. Storing the information in your Media Library allows it to be displayed even when you are off-line. Before accessing the Internet, the Player first checks if the related media information is already stored in your Media Library. If it is, the stored information is displayed. Furthermore, the digital media file itself may also get updated with missing related media information. For example, if your digital music file has the artist name, but not the album name, the Player will add the album name to the file. The Player will also add album art if it is available to the appropriate music folder. Related media information may not be available in your local language.

Retrieving and updating related media information will occur when:
  • Using the Media Library for the first time after updating your Player
  • Adding files to your Media Library by searching your computer
  • Adding files to monitored folders, such as My Music
When using Info Center View, related media information will be retrieved but the information in your digital music files will not be updated.

To prevent the Player from retrieving related media information from the Internet and updating your digital music files:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, clear the Retrieve media information from the Internet for music files and update files with missing info check box.
The Player supports other options that control the updating and overwriting of related media information. For more information:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Media Library tab, examine the relevant options.
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Editing Album Information

If you enter or edit information such as an artist name, a title, and track name using the Edit Album Info feature, WindowsMedia.com may store that information so that other users are able to retrieve and display it. Only enter information you want WindowsMedia.com to share with other users (i.e. do not enter any personal information you do not want others to see).

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Media Library

To protect your privacy and to allow you to personalize your playback experience, a separate Media Library is maintained for each user on your computer when you run Windows XP or Windows 2000.

The Media Library lists your collection of audio and video, as well as links to audio and video. This information can be accessed by other software on your computer and on the Internet.

In general, software you install and use can access any file you have an adequate level of permission. The Media Library is a file and therefore no different. If you are unsure about what a piece of software will do with the information in your Media Library, do not install and use that software.

When a Web page wants to access your Media Library, you will be prompted and given a choice whether you want to grant full access (read and write privileges), read only access, or no access. Do not grant access if you are unsure what the Web page will do with the information in your Media Library.

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Cookies

What is a Cookie?
A cookie is a small text file that is placed on your hard disk by a Web server. Cookies are uniquely assigned to you, and can only be read by a Web server in the domain that issued the cookie to you. Cookies cannot be used to run programs or deliver viruses to your computer.

A cookie is often used to personalize your visit to a Web site. For example, to facilitate a purchase the cookie could contain information such as your current selection, as well as Personally Identifiable Information, such as your name or e-mail address. To help Web sites track individual visitors, cookies often contain a unique identifier. It is up to the Web site that created the cookie to disclose to you what information is stored in the cookie and how that information is used.

WindowsMedia.com Cookie
A cookie will be sent to WindowsMedia.com whenever Windows Media Player communicates with the WindowsMedia.com service (for example, when you select the Media Guide, Radio Tuner, or when the Player requests supplemental CD or DVD information). The cookie allows WindowsMedia.com to personalize your WindowsMedia.com experience (for example, your radio presets are stored in this cookie). The cookie also contains a unique identifier which allows WindowsMedia.com to generate anonymous visitor statistics. This identifier is not the same as the Player ID described in the Communication with Streaming Media Servers section and does not contain any personally identifiable information. For more information about this cookie, please see the WindowsMedia.com privacy statement.

Other Cookies You May Encounter
Streaming media servers you connect with may also establish cookies on your computer. What data is stored in these cookies and how that data is used is determined by the content provider. Please contact the content provider for further information regarding these cookies.

Controlling Cookies
It is possible to block the creation and transfer of cookies using Internet Explorer. If you decide to block one or more cookies, the Web sites that use them may not function correctly. For example, if the WindowsMedia.com cookie is blocked, you may lose some features like the ability to set Radio Tuner Presets.

To prevent all cookies from being stored on your computer:
  1. In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and then click the Privacy tab.
  2. Move the slider up to Block All Cookies. On this setting, Web sites will not be able to store cookies on your computer.
Note: Blocking all cookies is an extreme action to take. The next two Internet Explorer privacy levels, High and Medium High, may be more suitable. In addition, it is possible to block a cookie for a specific site via the Edit menu. Please see Internet Explorer on-line help for more information.

To access the Internet Explorer Privacy tab directly from Windows Media Player:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, click the Cookies button.
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Microsoft Digital Rights Management

Content providers are using the Microsoft Digital Rights Management technology (DRM) to protect the integrity of their content so that their intellectual property, including copyright, is not misappropriated. Both Microsoft and third parties offer software that can play content secured with DRM (e.g. this Windows Media Player).

License Acquisition
To play secure content, a digital media license for the content must be resident on your computer. The license is a file that contains a non-traceable ID. By default, Windows Media Player will attempt to acquire a license when you try to play the secure content if one was not issued to you by the content provider when you downloaded the content. If the content provider requires a fee or some type of registration, the license server will prompt you for this information; otherwise the license will be acquired silently. It is the responsibility of the content provider to inform you how any information they collect from you is used.

You can control whether you want Windows Media Player to attempt "automatic" silent license acquisition. If automatic license acquisition is selected, licenses will be acquired silently if the license server allows it. If automatic license acquisition is not selected, the license server may prompt you prior to issuing a license.

If you do not wish to acquire licenses automatically:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, clear the Acquire licenses automatically for protected content check box.
License Restore Service
Microsoft has worked with partners (such as record labels, hand-held computer manufacturers, video labels, and many others) to develop a service that enables you to move and restore your digital media licenses (for legitimate purposes only) between your own computers, not your computer and your friend's computer. This service allows for a limited number of license transactions. When you restore your licenses, you are sending information to Microsoft that uniquely identifies your computer. Microsoft stores this information in a database and keeps track of the number of times you attempt to restore your licenses. Microsoft does not share this information with 3rd parties. When you restore your licenses, it may be necessary to first upgrade some of the DRM components on your computer. If the upgrade is required, it will be performed as part of the license restore process; you will not be prompted to accept the upgrade.

To avoid using the restore service:
  1. Do not click Restore Now in the License Management dialog box. The License Management dialog box is displayed by clicking License Management on the Tools menu.
Revocation Lists
If the security of the playback software is compromised, owners of secure content may request that Microsoft revoke the softwares right to copy, display and/or play secure content. Revocation does not alter the revoked softwares ability to play unprotected content. A list of revoked software is sent to your computer whenever you acquire a license. Microsoft will not retrieve any personally identifiable information, or any other information, from your computer by downloading such revocation lists. The only way to avoid receiving revocation lists is to not acquire licenses for secure content.

Security Upgrade
Owners of secure content may also require you to upgrade some of the DRM components on your computer before accessing their content. When you attempt to play such content, Windows Media Player will notify you that a DRM Upgrade is required and then ask for your consent before the DRM Upgrade is downloaded (third party playback software may do the same). If you decline the upgrade, you will not be able to access content that requires the DRM Upgrade; however, you will still be able to access unprotected content and secure content that does not require the upgrade. If you accept the upgrade, Windows Media Player will connect to an Internet site operated by Microsoft and will send a unique identifier along with a Windows Media Player security file. This unique identifier does not contain any personal identifiable information. Microsoft will then replace the security file with a customized version of the file that contains your unique identifier. This increases the level of protection provided by DRM.

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Automatic Player Updates

To provide you with the latest features and improvements, Windows Media Player will periodically check a Microsoft Web site for updates. If one is found, you will be prompted that an update is available and if you consent the new software will be installed on your computer.

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Automatic CODEC Download

By default, if a CODEC required for playback is not resident on your computer (i.e. the piece of software that decodes a specific kind of compressed content), Windows Media Player will silently download it from a Microsoft Web site if you are connected to the Internet and the CODEC is available.

If you want Windows Media Player to prompt you before downloading the CODEC:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Player tab, clear the Download codecs automatically check box.
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Usage History

In order to make it easier for you to find frequently played content, the Player keeps track of local files and Web-based content you have recently accessed when you use the File menu and Open URL dialog box. If you share your computer, you may not want others to see this information. To clear this information, and prevent this information from being saved and displayed:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, clear the Save file and URL history in the Player check box.
If you just want to clear this information:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, click the Clear History button.
For your convenience, Windows also maintains a list of recently accessed files when you use the Open Dialog box. To clear this information on Windows XP:
  1. Right-click on the Windows Start menu and click Properties
  2. On the Start Menu tab, click the Customize button.
  3. On the Advanced tab, click on the Clear List button.
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Subscription Services

To make it easier for you to find and sign up for subscription services that might interest you, Windows Media Player offers a Premium Services page that displays a list of available services. If you click on one of the sign up links, no personally identifiable information is sent by Windows Media Player to the service. The service, on the other hand, may ask you for personal information as part of signing up for the service. It is the responsibility of the service to disclose to you what information they collect from you and how that information is used.

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Customer Experience Improvement Program

The goal of the Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program is to improve the quality, reliability, and performance of Microsoft software and services. If you decide to participate, we will collect anonymous information about your hardware configuration and how you use our software and services to identify trends and usage patterns. We will not collect your name, address, or any other personally identifiable information. You will not be asked to complete any surveys, no salesperson will call, and you can continue working without interruption. We have setup the program to be safe, secure, transparent, and completely anonymous.

To participate in this program:
  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Privacy tab, click the I want to help make Microsoft software and services even better by sending Player usage data to Microsoft check box.
Read more about the Customer Experience Improvement Program.

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Reporting Problems to Microsoft

If you contact Microsoft with a problem, you may be asked to provide additional diagnostic information to help Microsoft track down the source of your problem. If you choose to provide this information, such as the content of log files that may reside on your system, you should inspect the information carefully to verify it does not contain any information you do not want Microsoft to have. Only provide information you are comfortable sharing.

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Changes to the Privacy Statement

We may occasionally update this privacy statement. When we do, we will revise the "last updated" date at the top of the privacy statement. We encourage you to periodically review this privacy statement to be informed of how Microsoft is protecting your information.

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Contact Information

Microsoft welcomes your comments regarding this privacy statement. If you believe that Microsoft has not adhered to this statement, please contact us by e-mail or postal mail, and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to promptly determine and remedy the problem.

Windows Media Privacy
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Send email to wmpriv@microsoft.com.

To find contact details for the Microsoft subsidiary or affiliate in your country or region, see Microsoft Worldwide.


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