De-DRMing iTunes Music Store-purchases.
March 2, 2006 1:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I convert an iTunes Music Store purchased track (MPEG-4 with DRM) into a plain old MP3? I own two tracks of the same song — both purchased at iTMS... and I want to give one of them to a friend... but iTMS music has DRM in it, and isn't letting me. Any suggestions? I'm on Mac OSX 10.4.5.
posted by silusGROK to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Burn to CD, rip back into iTunes.
posted by reverendX at 1:40 PM on March 2, 2006


Can you just burn the track(s) to a CD and then import them back into iTunes? I've done that with some of my iTMS purchases and was able to do whatever I wanted with the files afterwards.
posted by AgentRocket at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2006


I've done this ubuntu, not sure if it would work on OS X (since its Unix based it seems as if it might work, but I'm not that tech saavy)

Make sure you have faad, libfaad2-0 and libfaad2-dev and lame, and then run this bash script in a folder that contains the m4as you want to convert:
#!/bin/bash
for i in *.m4a
do
base=`basename "$i" .m4a`
faad -o - "$i" | lame -h -b 192 - "$base.mp3"
done
This would convert .m4a files to 192 kps mp3s.
posted by puffin at 1:42 PM on March 2, 2006


This was a solution in the past, but is not, currently. You may wish to investigate their forums, however. In the meantime, burning it to CD and then reripping it as an MP3 sounds like the idea with the surest possibility of success.
posted by WCityMike at 1:47 PM on March 2, 2006


Also, keep in mind that, as stupid as the law in question is, you're essentially asking people how to break the law, e.g., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
posted by WCityMike at 1:48 PM on March 2, 2006


Burning the track to CD and then importing it back to iTunes will work in OS X.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you used iTunes 5 you can use Hymn. Otherwise it's burn->rerip. Note that you will suffer a quality loss by doing this, but then again since you're asking about transcoding lossy formats (aac -> mp3) you can't be too concerned with quality to begin with.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2006


If you can get it to PC with winamp, you can just hit CTRL-P, set it to disk writer plugin, and jack's your uncle.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2006


Really, MC? Now that is some useful info - didn't realize that Winamp played m4p, just m4a...
posted by caution live frogs at 2:08 PM on March 2, 2006


Best answer: If you don't want to burn a CD you can use Audio Hijack which will write an AIFF file for you and also turn it in to an MP3 if you want it to iirc. Usual caveats about re-encoding music from a compressed source apply. You will loose some quality, it'll still sound better than the radio by a massively long way though.
posted by public at 2:10 PM on March 2, 2006


Response by poster: I'm not breaking any laws here... I'm taking something I own and giving it away... plain and simple. I just need to break it first to make it useful.
posted by silusGROK at 2:17 PM on March 2, 2006


Audio Hijack or Wiretap Pro will record any sound your computer can make to an audio file. Sort of an "all in the DSP" version of putting a microphone in front of your speakers.

Both are good programs, with Audio Hijack having slightly more configuration options.

Most people who made podcasts on their macs before Garageband 3 used one or the other.
posted by Crosius at 2:26 PM on March 2, 2006


SilusGROK, you do NOT own that track, you own a copy of the track. Copyright still is held by the original artist and his assignees. You decided to purchase the track from Itunes having explicitly agreed to never do what you are planning on doing.

odinsdream, while the legallity of copying your own tracks for personal usage is indeed established, the legallity of violating the TOS contract you 'signed' to purchase a track from Itunes is certainly not as cut and dried as you'd like.
posted by nomisxid at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2006


Really, MC? Now that is some useful info - didn't realize that Winamp played m4p, just m4a...

I just checked and it's not on the site any longer. But I swear there was one on winamp.com at some point because I had it. The installer must still exist somewhere.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:54 PM on March 2, 2006


I own two tracks of the same song — both purchased at iTMS... and I want to give one of them to a friend...

You're not serious, are you? Did you actually pay twice to download two copies of the same song? Why?

You have a couple of options.

1) Authorize your friend's computer to play your iTunes song (you can do this with up to 5 computers, but it may also make it possible for your friend to buy songs using your credit card, so be careful).

2) Burn to CD & re-import, as everyone has mentioned.

3) Just download an unprotected MP3 off of a P2P network.

Any three of these will probably violate some aspect of the law, so take your pick. The legitimate way to do this is to click the "Gift This Music" link next to the album name in iTunes, which will send your friend an e-mail allowing them to download their very own authorized copy of the song.

However, if you've actually already purchased 2 copies of the same track (which I doubt—doesn't iTunes warn you about this?), it's too late for you. You'll need to drop another cool 99¢ to gift the track from scratch. Unless you can get ahold of iTunes support and convince them to help a brother out. Stranger things have happened.
posted by designbot at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2006


puffin's example does not convert DRM iTunes tracks to mp3.

But, it does convert tracks ripped from CD to mp3. And, I originally ripped a bunch of my CDs to the .m4a format, and not mp3, so thanks for providing the conversion for me...
posted by achmorrison at 2:57 PM on March 2, 2006


achmorrison: Thanks. Not having used iTunes at any great length, I did not realize that. I'm glad it helped you though. :)
posted by puffin at 3:03 PM on March 2, 2006


iTunes Music Store Customer Service FAQ:

I accidentally purchased the same song twice.

iTunes includes many features to protect you from purchasing the exact same song twice. iTunes does not check your library for ripped music or music purchased using another account. If you accidentally purchased a duplicate song, email us using the form below.


Your cleanest-audio, most-legitimate option is to try to get a credit from iTunes for your duplicate purchase and gift the track to your friend.

Your second-best option is to authorize your friend's computer and make sure you sign out of the Music Store (they shouldn't be able to use your credit card this way).

Your third-best option is to re-download the song off of P2P. Any other options will downgrade your sound quality and defeat the purpose of paying for the song in the first place.
posted by designbot at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2006


But, it does convert tracks ripped from CD to mp3. And, I originally ripped a bunch of my CDs to the .m4a format, and not mp3, so thanks for providing the conversion for me...

achmorrison,

You can do the same thing within iTunes. Go to your Import preferences and set them to whatever MP3 settings you want to use. Then select the tracks you want to convert and choose "Convert Selection to MP3" from the Advanced menu.
posted by designbot at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2006


silusGOK you are indeed breaking the law. Circumventing copyright protection mechanisms is illegal thanks to the DMCA.

The DMCA may be bullshit but that does not change the fact that it is law.
posted by phil at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2006


Also, keep in mind that, as stupid as the law in question is, you're essentially asking people how to break the law, e.g., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

You're explicitly allowed to copy music for friends by the audio home recording act. The DMCA doesn't make any changes to copyright law itself, only standardizes enforcement and bans selling or making tech to break DRM (but specifically allows talking about how to break DRM)
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on March 2, 2006


silusGOK you are indeed breaking the law. Circumventing copyright protection mechanisms is illegal thanks to the DMCA.

There are huge number in of exceptions to that rule in the DMCA. I think it's very unlikely that he would be violating it by giving a copy of this track to his friend, especially given that the DMCA does not change existing copyright law. Since the copy would be legal under the 1976 HRA, it would probably not violate the DMCA to bypass the DRM.

Either way, unless he were doing it for private financial gain or commercial advantage, he would not face any sort of criminal prosecution.
posted by delmoi at 4:29 PM on March 2, 2006


My understanding is that this is what's so bad about the DMCA; yes, it's legal under copyright law to do all kinds of things like make backup copies, but regardless of that fact, it's illegal under the DMCA to circumvent any kind of encryption, which you need to do before you can do all these nice legal things. Obviously, it's not illegal to record a TV show on your DVR, but if the network turns on a broadcast flag to stop you, then it is illegal to break their encryption, regardless of your intentions.

But, as odinstream said, "that's so up for debate it's hardly worth going into." I don't worry about it myself, and I probably do technically illegal things all the time. In this case, if he's telling the truth about downloading a song twice, he does have a legal means within the system to do something about it, and he might as well try that first.

(Also, we're talking about 99¢ here. It's not worth going through a lot of trouble for.)
posted by designbot at 4:53 PM on March 2, 2006


Re-recording a track is a pain, and the quality sucks, especially since you are starting with a 128Kbps track. Life is too short. Go here and pay a few pennies for a copy of the track that you feel you have acquired a licence for.
posted by meehawl at 7:04 PM on March 2, 2006


If the person paid twice for the same song and wants to give one copy to a friend, how is that materially different than if the person had given the friend $0.99 and said "here go buy that song with this..."?

I think we're at the point where law and common sense part ways. Who said "the law is an ass"?
posted by hwestiii at 9:49 PM on March 2, 2006


It's surprising to me that the "Convert Selection to MP3" command under the Advanced menu isn't greyed out when you select a track purchased from the iTMS. Anyway, that's how I'd do it. No need to burn to CD and re-rip, just convert the track.
posted by emelenjr at 10:56 PM on March 2, 2006


emelenjr: "$Track Name" could not be converted because protected files cannot be converted to other formats
posted by ajbattrick at 2:49 PM on March 3, 2006


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