Remove DRM from iTunes

Oct 22, 2009 - 11 Comments


Some iTunes music comes with DRM, but you can use an iTunes trick to remove DRM. Note this should only be used if you own the actual rights to the music, or if you are allowed to remove DRM by the rights-owner.

DRM iTunes songs usually have an .m4p file extension. But this trick basically allows you to convert .m4p to .m4a.

To be clear and provide some background, DRM is a complex topic that is far beyond the reaches of this article. DRM on songs is intended to protect the copyright owner or the distributor of the music, but for some end users it can be considered restrictive or obnoxious as it can sometimes limit where a song can be played or listened to. The idea for those that dislike DRM is that you paid for the music therefore the user who paid for it should be able to listen to it how they want, but whether or not that is true is unclear and it may depend on the copyright owner or the distributor, or the creator of the music. Complex stuff, lots of theory, probably not what most people think about when they just want to listen to a song or burn a CD of some music! Record companies and owners of music don’t always agree with that concept and they often like DRM to protect from music copying or improper file sharing, an understandable concern for musicians and producers alike.

When you buy something like a song from iTunes, or some other online music download services, some songs and music will come with DRM protection preventing you from playing a file outside of iTunes or another media player.

But a trick with iTunes can be used to remove DRM if you have a disc of the music. You should only do this if it’s allowed by the owner of the music however, for example if it’s your own disc and you are the musician and distributor.

How to Remove DRM from songs using iTunes

Interestingly, you can use iTunes itself to remove DRM from songs by ripping a cd, then burning it, and then ripping it again. It’s a little circler but it works, here’s how:

* Create a playlist within iTunes that includes all the songs with DRM

* Using a blank CD-R disk, Burn the DRM songs to this CD with iTunes

* Once the CD is burnt, re-rip the entire CD with iTunes

* Your newly imported songs will be DRM free

To avoid confusion you may want to delete the originals with DRM protection.

This method to remove the DRM protection works on Mac OS X and Windows, so regardless of where your iTunes music is stored you’ll be able to remove the restriction.

DRM is a complicated topic, and it is entirely up to YOU to understand your abilities and rights regarding DRM and DRM removal.

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Posted by: David Mendez in iTunes, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Wouldn’t that degrade quality. It’s like mp3 -> wav -> CD -> wav -> mp3 isn’t ?
    Probably difference would be hard to tell.. but stil :)

  2. Polywog says:

    It would degrade the quality quite a bit, unless you went from the DRM copy -> CD -> Apple Lossless.

  3. DRM Sucks says:

    worked like a charm, screw DRM! thansk

  4. Kindour says:

    This method is great!

    However, it can only be used to remove DRM from iTunes “Songs”. And it is a waste of CD discs if you have lots of songs ready to be burnt.

    I’d like recommend checking out this tutorial about how to remove DRM from iTunes M4P M4V M4B:

  5. Joe says:

    Helpful tip.
    I used this iTunes backup software to backup my iTunes files in a simple way instead of using discs.

    It is an easy to use iTunes utility designed to help you backup/recover/transfer your whole iTunes library and media files. It offers a simple way to keep your iTunes in sync everywhere. You can use it to backup your own iTunes library or synchronize multiple iTunes on different computers. The backed up library file is pretty easy to transfer to other iTunes, and it’s easy to manage.

  6. aardman says:

    You don’t need to burn a CD. I use iMovie (not the current version which is

    1. Open a new iMovie project and put a short, short vid clip in the timeline, trim it down if needed to, say, 1 second. You won’t record it but iMovie looks for one. You might want to strip the audio; click Advanced>Extract Audio. Then highlight the audio track on the timeline and delete it.

    2. Now put your .m4p song right after the vid clip on the timeline. Then export this to Quicktime, save as a .mov file. You can close iMovie HD now.

    3. Open the saved .mov file in MPEG (google that). Position the playhead where the video clip ends and the audio clip starts then click Edit>Select In to put an in marker on that spot.

    4. Now click File>Export to Audio and just follow the prompts. Choose .aiff file for least compression/data loss.

  7. aardman says:

    Note: Even older versions of iMovie can directly export .m4p files to non-DRM .aiff (and other) formats.

  8. Elena says:

    Dear all,
    I’m a student of Management Engineering at Politecnico di Torino. One of the objectives of my master thesis, applied to a real case study, is the protection of confidential or valuable content using Digital Rights Management (DRM) techniques. I would like to start my research by doing a survey among expert and professionals in the IT sector.
    As part of this work, I have developed a questionnaire whose purpose is collecting feedback in order to come up with an objective assessment of the market where such software for protecting digital assets could be deployed.
    If you would be so kind to help me in doing my thesis, I will be happy to share with you the results of the survey by sending you the final report (which will be anonymous and respectful of your privacy). You can find the questionnaire online at the following link:
    Thank you very much in advance for your kind help and your time.
    Best regards,

  9. mactransfer says:

    Yes, DRM is always the trouble for me. I can’t copy it to what I want. I hate DRM. GET rid of them out of my music.

  10. Kaden says:

    Does this work for Movies and apps? Or can you even burn apps to a disc?

  11. This is the free and legal way to do that, however it is a litter hard to get the work done.

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