To prevent unauthorized distribution, some digital media files are protected with media usage rights. The rights specify how you can use the file—for example, whether you can sync the file to a portable device or play it on another computer. The terms of the rights are specified by the person or company that provided the file or the TV broadcaster that provided the content. Windows Media Center cannot play protected files unless you download rights for that content.
There are different ways to acquire media usage rights, but the most common way is to download them from content providers (such as record companies). The content provider might issue rights when you download the file. Otherwise, when you play a file that you do not have the rights for, Windows Media Center attempts to acquire them automatically or prompts you to acquire them.
Additionally, some TV content might be marked as protected by the TV content owner, broadcaster, or originator. The terms of the content protection are specified by the content provider and transmitted with the TV show. If you record the show, the content protection terms are stored with the recorded TV file and enforced upon playback.
Some shows or portions of a recorded show might be restricted to play on the Windows Media Center that they were recorded on. If you attempt to play the recorded TV file on another computer, you are notified that it is restricted content and you cannot play it.
In addition, some protected media files or portions of files might have media usage rights that expire after a specified amount of time. If you try to access the media file after the rights expire, you are notified that the media file is no longer available. To play some protected content, you might need to adjust your display settings or connection types. For more information, see Troubleshoot problems with playing DVDs and movies or contact your hardware manufacturer.