Saturday, November 18, 2006

Damn you, iTunes and your loathsome DRM!

I knew this was coming, but I couldn't resist the convenience of the iTunes Music Store.

I'd love to load up my car's CD changer for those times when I don't have an iPod handy. Unfortunately, it seems I can't burn any of the more than 500 songs I've bought from the iTMS to an MP3 CD.

From the iTunes documentation, "if your playlist includes songs in formats other than MP3, such as songs purchased from the iTunes Store, they aren't burned to the CD." I love how they try to make it sound like a format rather than a DRM issue.

As of iTunes 7, Apple has blocked out hymn et al. That leaves QTFairUse6.

QTFairUse6 requires me to install Windows (see what you made me do, Apple?), and I think it converts in real time (i.e. at the same rate as a song plays). I guess it's worth it to rid my music collection of DRM. You could call it my penance for ignoring the EFF.

Any recommendation for where to shop from now on? I'd hate to go back to buying CDs. Is technically legal? I know they don't pay labels, but do they pay artists? If so, I could get behind that.


Blogger Alex Rasmussen said...

Converts songs (slowly) with iMovie HD.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

Holy crap. Thanks for the link. My Mac Pro should make short work of this...

10:40 PM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

Alex, I got an Apple Script error. :(

Anyway, FairGame re-encodes the sound putting it on par with the Audacity solution. That's good enough for my use case but not a long term solution.

I guess I'm going to have to go buy Windows.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Dave F. said...

Um.. you can burn your iTunes music to standard audio CD format in iTunes, without any special tools. Those CDs will play in any CD player. There is plenty of documentation of this feature in iTunes :-)

If you want an MP3 CD, you can take those standard audio CD's (or disc images I believe) and use iTunes or another program to rip them to MP3, and then burn those MP3s to a cd.

This actually _is_ a format issue, since you have two different encodings (independent from the DRM), AAC and MP3. I don't believe there is any way to get an MP3 file from an AAC file without first generating the audio and re-encoding. So, the DRM doesn't really have anything to do with it. Apple makes it really quite easy to get your music into other forms - it's only restriction is that if a playlist you create contains iTunes-purchased music, then it can only be burned to audio CD a total of 7 times.

I hope I haven't drastically misunderstood what you are trying to do. -Dave

11:55 PM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

Dave, if I took that approach I would have to burn and rip 35 CDs, not to mention all the effort involved in copying the meta data. :(

FWIW, you can script Audio Hijack Pro and get a similar result without all the effort.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

Dave, furthermore, to convert an AAC to MP3, right click the AAC file in iTunes and select, "Convert Selection to MP3." This assumes the file isn't protected and you've selected "MP3" as your import format in the iTunes preferences. You'll obviously lose some quality due to the re-encoding.

I think this shows not being able to burn a purchased song to an MP3 CD is a DRM and not a format issue.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Alex Rasmussen said...

(in his best Darth Vader voice)


I definitely see your point re: FairGame. Didn't know that Audacity would allow for re-encoding to the same format ... interesting. Yeah, DRM's a piece isn't it?

Kudos on the Mac Pro, BTW. Burned a large fraction of my intern money on it, and it's worth every penny :D

2:12 AM  
Blogger Faiser said...

hey on a mac a quick solution is to use AudioHijack (


11:16 AM  
Anonymous Rob Breidecker said...

I think the best (and completely legal) alternative to overpriced, DRM restricted songs is LaLa ( For $1.50 you can trade your used CDs with other members. Be sure to delete all copies of your CD before you trade, as is mentioned in the terms of use. ;)

6:13 PM  
Anonymous jo said...

QTFairUse6 2.5beta works with iTunes 7.x (get a download link at #hymn on freenode). It also converts faster-than-rt, but I don't know how they do it. You'll still need to use Windows for that, though, even though bending IRQ 3 and attaching a debugger to iTunes should work on any x86-architecture, so it should be possible to port QTFairUse to the Intel-macs, at least.

If you want to go with the burn/rip-"solution" you definitely should burn to a virtual drive.

11:41 AM  

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