Burned by MLB and DRM

I know this isn’t really business related, but I thought I’d write a post about this problem just in case anybody knows a solution.

In late 2004, after the Red Sox won the World Series, I purchased the downloadable broadcasts of all of their playoff games from Major League Baseball. That came to about 20 gigs of downloads covering 14 games, each of which was playable in Windows Media Player only (the only supported player at the time).

In each case, the first time I tried to play the file on a new computer, the program contacts MLB for a license file, which is then stored locally. After that I can play the files without a problem.

Well, I’m not really an “early adopter,” but that is almost three years ago and I’ve gotten new systems since then. The field of digital downloads has also, shall we say, moved on. Anyway, the other day I tried to play one of those files on my current computer, only to discover that the license download site no longer exists.

I contacted MLB about this at their 800 number. I eventually had to talk to a manager in order to find somebody who understood the situation.

He informed me that their digital download service is down and therefore unavailable. I explained that the files had already been downloaded years ago and I only needed the licenses, which I’d bought and paid for long ago.

That didn’t matter. I still need to contact the digital download service, which is not available. Worse, it’s been down all year, and, believe it or not, he had no idea when — or even if — it would ever be back up. He suggested I keep checking periodically, because he’s doing the same thing. And no, there is no one else I’m allowed to talk to about this.

The bottom line is that I now have a complete set of video files that I can’t play. I guess this is yet another example of the evils of digital rights management. Probably serves me right for going through legal channels to get them in the first place.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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