How to Remove Apple's DRM

How to remove Apple's DRM FairPlay

FairPlay is Apple's Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology that encodes every music file downloaded from the iTunes Music Store. Like any DRM, it will restrict exactly how you can use the file. Recent testing suggests that the DRM will actually shorten the life of your iPod's battery. For more information about the FairPlay DRM check our FairPlay close up.

Remove the FairPlay DRM

The easiest way to remove the DRM is to convert the file to a different audio format, like AAC. You can use iTunes to convert an MP3 to an AAC file, which is just a conventional CD music file that you can burn to a CD and play back in your conventional CD player. Even though a file is protected with Apple's FairPlay DRM, you're still permitted to convert it to an audio file for CDR any number of times. The following are instructions for converting you MP3 to an AAC:

  • From iTunes find the song you wish to convert to AAC
  • Right click on the song and select Convert Selection to AAC
  • The song is now in the form of a standard audio file that can be played back on a CD player
AAC

The file can now be burned to CD and imported back into your music library free of FairPlay. See your CD ROM burner's manual for exact details on burning a music CD in Windows XP. It's often as easy as dragging and dropping the files onto the CD drive when you have a blank CDR loaded.

Troubles with the AAC conversion method

The problem with the conversion method is that the music file has suffered compression from the conversion back to MP3. Further compression of an audio file derived from an already compressed source is not a good way to strip FairPlay. Apple knows this, that's why it's easy to do using iTunes.

You can also use lossless compression formats like WAF, AIFF FLAC, and Apple Lossless from the CD upon which you burned your AAC files. This will allow you to convert back to a format that will playback in your iPod with no lossy compression. The drawback with this method is the files will be much larger than they would be if you could just strip the DRM.

JHymn

The real way to free your music of the FairPlay DRM is to use a third-party utility like Hymn, "Hear Your Music Anywhere." The current version of Hymn is a Java variation called JHymn. JHymn is a java application that will remove the DRM from files downloaded from iTunes for all versions of iTunes through to 5.0.1. Unfortunately, as of March, 2006, this doesn't include the newest version of iTunes which is 6.0. Apple engineers have figured out a way to throw off Jhymn, but it's only a matter of time before Jhymn is able to figure out a way to strip the DRM, again. For more details and to keep up with ongoing conflict between the DRM and its crackers check out Jhymn's FAQ.

Although iTunes Music Store is the number one online music source, it's still only the choice of those who simply don't know any better. AllOfMp3.com is the Russian music server that is now free of litigation (for now) and is selling music much cheaper than iTunes and free of any DRM restrictions. You can even get the music you download from AllOfMp3.com at much higher bit rates (that means they sound better) than you can from iTunes.