Friday, November 26, 2010

Evil DRM preventing access to our purchases

The other day our xbox 360 stopped reading disks. It had done this before, but none of the usual tricks (like dropping it from 6 inches) or trying different titles worked this time. It was almost three years old, so unfortunately it was time for a new one. We got the new Kinect bundle with the xbox 360 s 250 GB unit. So far, so good. Next, we needed to transfer all the songs we’d purchased for Rock Band 2, the map packs for various “shoot-em ups” like Call of Duty: Black Ops and the like (I don’t know which titles they bought these expansion packs for, but I know there were quite a few of them). We purchased a transfer cable and transferred “our” content. I say “our” content because apparently it isn’t actually ours. Instead it is “ours” (you say that with those cute little air-quotes). There is some nasty form of Digital Restrictions Management on them so simply MOVING them isn’t enough. You need to “transfer the licenses”. To do this, you go to a flaky Microsoft web site (flaky in that for two days it showed various “not working” messages both from Live sign in, and later from the site itself – only to turn out that it worked in Internet Explorer). We finally got onto the site and found we had 161 items to transfer. We did that. It claimed they would download automatically. 24 hours later – no download. So we had to go to the flaky web site and painstakingly click “add to queue” for each of the 7 pages of items (161 in all). After a bit, it would start saying “queue is full” and we’d need to wait for the xbox to catch up. Since theses were just licenses, the xbox would show it was about to download say 160 MB and then – poof – it would be done since the content was already there. The real evilness of DRM reared its head on several of the titles. These were WORKING FINE before, and in fact one was purchased LESS THAN A MONTH ago. However, these items said “no longer available” when we tried to add them to the queue. Basically, since we’d transferred the licenses they were no longer available to us even though we “bought” (those cute little air-quotes again) them. This is the type of crap that should not be allowed. Any form of Digital Restrictions Management that not only gets in your way this much (if we had to transfer these there should have been a “do all” button and it should have taken 2 minutes), AND prevents you from using what you paid for is criminal. The other strange thing? We had better not accidentally break our xbox in a way that isn’t covered by warranty because we can apparently only transfer the licenses once per year. Why? No idea. It isn’t like we can copy the stuff and have it work. We should be able to transfer it to any xbox (or other platform) we want to.