Apple iTunes DRM-free Songs

They may be free of DRM, but they certainly are not free of information identifying exactly who bought them from iTunes and when! If you buy DRM-free, or “iTunes Plus” songs from the iTunes Store, and then share them with anyone else, you can still easily see exactly who originally bought them and therefore whether any copyright theft has taken place.

Fortunately, with a bit of hackery, it’s very simple to remove all the identifying information from iTunes Plus tracks.

Firstly, you need to download and install the developer tools “
XCode” from Apple. The bits you really need are the command-line compilers. Unfortunately you have to register as a developer with Apple, but that only takes a few moments. Or you might have a friend who is already registered. Beware, XCode is a pretty big download!

Once all that is installed, log out of your Mac and log back in again to be safe, then open up a Terminal (in Applications / Utilities), and run this command:
    sudo cpan install Audio::M4P::QuickTime
You will have to type in your password, after which it will start doing all sorts of magic stuff to install this little bit. Just say “y” to all the prompts. Don’t worry, it won’t do any harm Happy

download, put it on your Desktop and double-click on it to unpack it (if your web browser hasn’t already done so!). You will get a file “”, put that on your Desktop.

Now go to the Terminal window (open a new one if you closed it), and run these two commands:
    cd ~/Music/iTunes
    perl ~/Desktop/ 'iTunes Music'
and don’t forget those single quotes (apostrophes) in that second command, or it won’t work.
It should now sit and process all the *.m4a files in your iTunes Music Library, removing all identifying marks from them. They will still work just fine in iTunes, nothing will break. This can take a few minutes to run, but it will keep showing you what it’s doing.

That’s it! That wasn’t so hard now, was it. And now you can even tell your friends you’re a Perl hacker.


Update 24 May 2010: I have added some more features to Dropbox and I have released my new “Dropoff” over at Get all the latest and greatest there in future!

I have found a great solution to the common problem of sending and receiving files from other sites and research partners, and generally sending large files around the web where email won’t do the trick.

It’s called “
Dropbox” and was originally written by the University of Delaware.

I am launching it as a service at work called “
Dropoff” in order that people don’t think you are talking about the service provided by which is a totally different thing.

The idea is that you don’t even need to login to send a file to a user within your site/company/University/institution, so external people can use it to send files to people in your institution. It can handle arbitrarily large files, there are no fixed limits. If you log in to the Dropbox website, you can send files to people outside your institution. People who cannot log in can only send files to people within your institution. This stops the rest of the world using it to send people to other people who aren’t members of your institution.

I have added various extra features to it:
  • Active Directory AD authentication (to multiple AD sites at once if needed)
  • Virus scanning of uploaded files, using ClamAV

I have customised it quite a bit just for our site, so if you want a copy of my patched version, along with a guide as to what changes I have made, then please
contact me.