Aaron Stebner's WebLog

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Content protection errors in Update Rollup 2 for Media Center 2005

Content protection errors in Update Rollup 2 for Media Center 2005

I have heard of several folks running into issues playing protected content (such as purchased songs/movies, or HBO television shows) after installing Update Rollup 2 for Media Center 2005.  As I described here, Update Rollup 2 installs an updated Digital Rights Management (DRM) redistributable package.  We are still investigating reports of content protection problems in order to identify root causes and provide fixes.  In the meantime, I wanted to offer some suggestions.

First, I highly encourage you to backup your licenses for protected content prior to installing Update Rollup 2.  You can do the following to backup licenses:

  1. Open Windows Media Player
  2. On the Tools menu, select Manage Licenses
  3. (optional) To change the backup location, click Change and then select a location where you want to store backup copies of your licenses
  4. Click Back Up Now

Note - there are some license issuers that will not allow you to store backup copies of their license files, so this backup process may not back up all licenses on your system.

Second, if you have already installed Update Rollup 2 without backing up licenses, and you are now unable to play protected content there is a knowledge base article that describes how to reset the DRM system on your computer.  There is one step that should be added to that article that is not there currently - before deleting the Windows Media DRM folder, you need to close any programs that might be holding files in that folder in use.  Specifically, make sure to close Media Player and Media Center, and run the command net stop ehRecvr to stop the Media Center Recording service immediately prior to trying to delete that folder.

Resetting DRM restores the ability to play protected content in most cases.  However, if you use these steps to reset the DRM system and do not have backup copies of your licenses, you will lose the ability to play any previously acquired protected content.  If you have content that you do not want to lose, I would encourage you to wait until we can identify and post a fix.  If you are not concerned about any previous content, I encourage you to try out the steps in the KB article - they are semi-complicated, but I have used them in the past and had some success.

There is a new hotfix available as of 4/14/2006 that is designed to fix protected content playback issues in Update Rollup 2 for Media Center 2005.  Please try out this hotfix if you have DRM/protected content playback issues in Update Rollup 2.

<update date="11/4/2005"> Added an additional step for the knowledge base article - stopping any processes that may have DRM files in use </update>

<update date="4/15/2006"> Added a link to a new DRM hotfix that is now available in case people find and read some of my older blog posts in an attempt to fix this type of issue </update>


  • Yes, it is the protected content message. I can watch HBO, STARZ etc for about 15 seconds and then the screen comes up. I've tried deleting the DRM folder but no go. This appears to be but one of many little media center quirks. I've also experienced audio dying for no reason and I have to reboot. Or, system won't wake up from standby consistently. Too many irritating little issues. I do, however, like the music set up. Have loaded in all my CDS (over 350) which is why I'm hoping to copy them to a new hard drive. Loading them was very time consuming.
  • Arron
    It's been a while since I last posted on this subject. I have been patiently waiting for you to come back with an answer for those of us who cannot watch or record HBO with Media Center despite trying every variation on the DRM reset. You and Microsoft know by now that the DRM reset does not work for everyone. I appreciate your politenes in apologizing for the problem but sooner or later we need to see a fix. Nothing has really been done since offering a DRM reset. December 5th you posted "we are still working on a fix for this content protection issue and hope to have it ready very soon". I'm sure it's pretty complicated but this has been going on since October and Media Center is a major operating system being sold with a lot of new computers. We pay Cable for HBO, we paid Microsoft either directly or through our computer puchase for Media Center yet the two do not work together properly. How about posting some reassuring substantive information on what is being done and when we might see a real fix.

    Getting frustrated,Steve
  • Well said. I couldn't agree more
  • Don't blame Microsoft, blame the content providers that force this stupid crappy DRM down our throats against our will.

    Guess what HBO, I can't watch your channel because you insist on crappy DRM, so my only alternative is to pirate it.  Good going guys, you're doing a great job protecting your content.  You forced a legal customer to download it illegally...who does this hurt, the pirates, or the legal folk?
  • Wow! This is amazing. I have suddenly lost the ability to watch HBO and Showtime on my MCE. I'm not going to go through all the convolutions suggested here to get it back. I'm just going to cancel these subscriptions. Way to go DRM!
  • Just helped my nephew install a tuner card in his media pc. Yes, it didn't come with one. So much for Microsoft's concern about hardware. Anyway,he was so excited about getting it all hooked up I haven't had the heart to tell him how disappointed he will ultimately be. Shame on you Microsoft.
  • Hi Stera - Microsoft is definitely concerned about hardware.  In this case though, it is the decision of the hardware manufacturer whether or not to include TV tuner(s) with Media Center.  I am not sure why you state that your nephew is going to be disappointed?  Is there something currently going wrong with his Media Center?  If so, can you please share some of the details so I can see if it is a known issue and try to help solve it?

    Hi Steve et al - I understand the frustration, and I also know it doesn't help at all for me to say that I understand.  The DRM team has released a fixed version of the preventative fix (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/910393) and is actively working on another hotfix.  I have been posting information as soon as I find out about it (for example, this post on January 16th - http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/articles/513660.aspx).

    Again, I apologize again for the delay.  We have to make sure that any upcoming hotfixes not only fix all of the issues described here but also leave all currently working configurations in the correct working state, and as you can imagine, this is a complex test matrix.

  • I've got an interesting take on this issue-
    I loaded mce then changed a ton of hardware and uprevved the bios (I know, shoulda done it in reverse, but regardless)...

    I then could not play the protected media files(Alanis Morsett vid for example) nor watch HBO live without the 15-second 'drm problem' mssage.

    I then followed Aaron's recommendations, and used the directions in KB891664 to delete the drm folder and download the latest drm components.

    The result? I can watch HBO now, but when playing the included protected content (alanis again) I get an error where WMP says it needs to download a license by connecting to http://localhost/licerror.aspx. Needless to say, that's not a valid address and it craps out.

    I'm happy with hbo and don't really care about Alanis but the error looking for a license on an invalid address makes me think some programmer didn't write into MCE where to look to obtain some licences for this conten. Aaron-- how can I obtain the right license for the inluded, protected content in mce?
  • Hi Chrisr - Some protected content has a built-in "optimization" that will cause it to not try to request a new license if a flag has been set indicating that it already acquired a license, even if the license that has been acquired is no longer valid.  What is the manufacturer of the content that you are seeing this issue with?
  • Hi Aaron. The only content I cannot get to play correctly is the protected content installed by default when installing MCE2005. The 'free' protected content in the all users-> shared videos/music folders.

    It's really not a big deal that I cannot play them as I'm not a huge fan of anyone's content MS provided as part of the install, but thought you should know that as a side effect of the clearing of the drm folder that when this content tries to reaquire the license it goes looking for it at the localhost/licerror.aspx page and threw up an error.
  • you know I really like mce2005 found it a real usful tool till now that is..I am getting these messages now and after spending much time have decided like everyone else to just cancel the movie package from my sat provider..I think I understand now why some people dont pay for stuff...only us suckers fuel the fire...I am so fed up with this drm stuff I am finding a new hobby
  • This worked for me.  I now have HBO


    I did the DRM resest and resinstalled Rollup 2.  After this HBO worked.

    The next step of this process is installation of KB908250 .  I believe that this has been replaced with a newer update.  When I installed the update HBO was gone again.  I uninstalled, had to go through the setup process for my tuner, and I was again able to view HBO.  

    Hope this helps some of you.  Thanks for the help Aaron.  There is still a bug in here somewhere but at least I have it working again.
  • Not sure how helpful it will be as there seems to be a number of issues at play here, but here is the sequence that worked for me (note that I tried a number of sequences that did not work).  In my case I was unable to play live or recorded HBO content.

    1) Installed the decoder checkup utility and set my preferred MCE decoder to be the original one that was installed on the system (in my case I had installed the Nvidia decoder in place of the intervideo decoder that came with the HP Media Center)
    2) Turned off all antivirus/firewall software (if not 3rd party you should be able to leave on firewall)
    3) Shut down the ehrecvr MCE service
    4) Deleted all files within the hidden system DRM folder (see above instructions from Aaron)
    5) Downloaded latest DRM security components upgrade at http://go.microsoft.com/FWLink?LinkID=34506
    6) Rebooted System

    Note that I tried multiple other steps, including these same ones but in different sequences with no success.  I did *not* re-run any other patches/hotfixes/rollups after these steps, nor did I rollback any prior.

    Hope this helps someone
  • I guess I don't understand all these comments that state:  "Well I'm just going to cancel my cable/sat subscriptions to HBO/Starz/etc...".  Since this is specifically a problem with Media Center and they are not forthcoming with a fix in a reasonable amount of time, shouldn't you be looking for alternatives to MCE... rather than canceling subscription to premium content?

    I currently don't have the HBO/premium content problems you all refer to here, except that I cannot take my HBO recording and view it on another PC.  But if this problem was on my MCE computer directly and I couldn't view HBO live or any premium recordings, I would look for an alternative software solution, rather than cancel my HBO.

    MythTV, SageTV, Media Portal, Meedio, MyPVR, etc, etc, etc... many of these are completely free or free to try.  None of them cost as much as MCE.  I would simply switch to another front end, rather than lose content.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing MS or it's MCE product.  I currently use MCE as my full time media machine and am happy with it, but with all the other alternatives out there that can perform similar and in many ways better, why wouldn't that be your first option over canceling subscriptions to your cable?
  • I have seem to have a related content protection issue.  Similar to everyone else, but with good only fashioned analog cable.  

    Tried to record ABC's Lost last night.  Media center says it was recorded, but only 14 minutes of it!

    Further investigation in the Event Viewer log lists this error...

    Event Type:     Warning
    Event Source:   Recording
    Event Category: None
    Event ID:       8
    Date:           3/1/2006
    Time:           9:17:22 PM
    User:           N/A
    Computer:       HTPC

    Lost was not recorded.  Recording of this content is prohibited by the content provider.
    I can playback the 14 minutes which were recorded - which is right up until the 2nd commercial break was going to start in.  Just enough to get into the show, only to be left hanging.

    I'll admit, this is the first time I tried to record Lost.  Though, give me a break, the recorded analog signal is hardly worthy of any sort of protection - picture doesn't look that great in the first place.

    I too have Update Rollup 2 installed - unsure if it is related to that or not.  Any ideas how to fix this issue?

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