Should spyware be allowed for digital rights management, as exemplified by Sony and Microsoft practices?

Not at all. Firstly there is no relation between the terminology (Spyware) and what the DRM is intended to do. Something which is Spyware is deemed illegal under the law cannot be used for regulation digital rights. The problem that Microsoft is facing is that the license tracking software that it developed is tagged under Spyware since it gathered personal information such as hardware and IP. Clearly, it should not be used for DRM.

If there was a user agreement (which user must have signed) that Microsoft will track of so and so information for fraudulent license, then it would have been a valid software. Unless they have this agreement in place, they are on the brim of privacy invasion. They could sell this info to third party to create survey of what hardware windows users are using, for financial advantage. The point here is that such “software” can be used with proper indication in the user agreement, otherwise they will be tagged as Spyware and should not be used for any purpose.