The End of iTunes Music Copy Protection, Sort of…


A few years ago Apple made a big announcement at Macworld in San Francisco.  It wasn’t a new dazzling hi-tech computer, iPhone or iPod but the announcement that the iTunes Music store will sell all music download without any digital rights management (DRM) copy protection.

Previous music purchases from iTunes contained copy protection

Previous music purchases from iTunes contained DRM (digital rights management) copy protection

Previously if you purchased music from iTunes the files were encoded as an AAC protected file which would only play on an iPod or other Apple related device.  If you wanted to put your music on a non-Apple device such as another manufacturer’s digital music player  or stream to say a Tivo  – the music files would not play.  The way around this was to burn the encoded music file to a CD and then re-import the file from the CD back into your computer in a different format such as the popular mp3 or as an non-protected AAC format.

Truth be told – the copy-protection was not necessarily Apple’s idea but was implemented mainly at the insistence of music executives which did not want people to give away and share their music purchases.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s master guru, had made a public statement earlier indicating that Apple believed DRM was no longer feasible and expressed the idea that they wanted songs sold without DRM.  EMI was the first to offer songs without copy protection and the rest of the major labels followed suit.

Are iTunes songs though now really DRM free?  Well, sort of… however, the audio files embed the original purchaser’s name and email address. You may want to be cautious if you are sharing songs purchased from the iTunes store with others due to this fact. The embedded purchaser’s name and email address allows the song files to be traced back to the original owner.  What Apple will do with this information is anyones guess.

Name & email address embedded in a newly purchased iTunes song


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