Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Beware of iTunes 4.7.1

After updating to iTunes last night, I found that it would no longer play some of the files I’d bought from the iTunes Music Store which had had their DRM stripped using iOpener. I’m not the only one – Apple has reprogrammed iTunes to refuse to play these files (although unlike some reports it doesn’t delete them in my experience).
Yeah, thanks Apple. I really wanted to be able to less with my music.

Thankfully all is not lost. If you were careful when stripping the DRM, you kept a backup copy of the protected file like I did, in which case you can use JHymn which is a Java client that can strip the DRM and also remove all traces that the file ever had DRM, leading iTunes to treat it like any normal AAC audio file. Just make sure you read the page in its entirity first. It’s not the world’s most attractive utility (on Windows at least, the Mac version looks much nicer) but it does seem to work okay.

If you didn’t keep a backup, then you’re stuffed, quite frankly, as I don’t believe Apple will let you download files that you have bought more than once (other stores like MyCokeMusic do).

Update: iTunes 4.7.1 includes a security fix which prevents arbitrary code execution. A malformed playlist could cause a buffer overflow, leading to possible execution of code. It’s therefore a very good idea to upgrade, but if you have used hymn/iOpener in the past, you should either restore backups of files or use JHymn.


  1. Heh, I knew they’d do this sooner or later. This once again proves why DRM is a bad thing.

  2. Be careful with iTunes 4.7.1

    Neil advises you to be careful before updating to iTunes 4.7.1. If you’ve bought music from iTMS and have used iOpener to strip the DRM from the files you’re stuck unless you have a backup of the originals….

  3. As a Macintosh user, I’m chuffed to bits with my software; as Apple say, it just works, and I feel sort of embarassed that you, as a Windows user, have felt let down by iTuees and its integration with your version of that nice Mr Gates’ gear!

  4. Thanks for the information. Even though I haven’t done this it is a good thing to note in he future.

  5. Good thing once I stripped them of the DRM, I then converted them into MP3 using iTunes very own in-built tool

  6. Well that was fast… there’s already a fix for stripping the DRM again:

  7. You had to know that they were going to update iTunes with the release of new iPods. Doing what Greg did, converting the m4p files to mp3 is probably a good idea. You’ll lose a little quality and save yourself having to re-DRM the files.
    Another suggestion would be to make a script that can un-DRM the files with one command, keep it up-to-date. When updates occur in the future, it’s just a simple command away.

  8. Dave and Greg – if you follow the instructions to the letter, you’ll have totally de-DRMed the files, so that they like like normal AAC files. That way you don’t loose any quality whatsoever.

  9. The teeeeny loss of quality doesnt bother me, it also makes it easier for my brother to steal files off me for his non-apple mp3 player

  10. Neil, if this is true, why are you so bummed about the new release of iTunes? Does iOpener not “follow the instructions to the letter” when it comes to de-DRM’ing the files?
    I really would like to know. I have been putting off doing this for various reasons, but the biggest is the need to do it over and over again.

  11. Basically, iOpener removes the DRM but leaves elements in the file’s header that show that you bought the file from iTMS – it includes the address of the Apple account used, for example. This is to discourage people from pirating the de-DRMed files. iTunes 4.7.1 now blocks these files.
    JHymn, when set up correctly, will remove any trace of the file having been bought from iTMS. By default it works in the same was as iOpener and hymn. Because these files are (seemingly) indistinguishable from normal AAC files, iTunes does not block them.

  12. And things like this is why I’m never first to upgrade DRM applications (like iTunes and Microsoft Media Player). Hell, I haven’t even gone to Media Player 10 yet, though if TiVoToGo ever deploys their update they might force that one on me. :-/

  13. More Discouragement from buying music vs downloading it:

    After updating to iTunes last night, I found that it would no longer play some of the files Iā€™d bought from the iTunes Music Store which had had their DRM stripped using iOpener. Iā€™m not the only one – Apple has reprogrammed iTunes to r

  14. Just FYI for everyone: Upon updating to 4.7.1 last night, my iOpened files did, indeed, stop playing.
    Being unaware of the DRM-stripping that 4.7.1 does, I sent a very angry letter to the iTunes for Windows support folks, asking them why my (paid for, authorized on only two machines) tracks had stopped playing.
    They wrote back, saying that they had “manually removed all machine authorizations”, and that that would fix it. It didn’t, so I wrote back again this morning. An hour or so later, they wrote back, saying that they had authorized a one-time re-download of all of my tracks!!!
    This will take a while, but that’s fine – I’ll strip the DRM properly when I get home tonight using JHymn.
    I am not sure how much longer they’ll be letting people re-download, but if you’re having trouble, perhaps you can convince them to let you do so as well.

  15. Ok, I give up. Why bother using ITMS if you’re just going to remove the DRM?? Why not, a) buy the CD and rip it however you want, or b) steal the stuff outright? I just don’t see why you go to all the trouble to buy something, and then rip the DRm off, and in the case of the mp3 conversion, make it sound worse than it already does. Just curious.

  16. I agree John! When ever I buy a song/album from iTMS, I am off to to find out what album the song appears on (originally), then it’s off to bittorrent sites, or Shareaza to find someone who is sharing the album/song.
    It really dosen’t do me any good to just pull the DRM off the track since an AAC file still won’t play on anything other than an iPod.

  17. Neil,
    I have to ask. What in the world is the point of stripping the DRM from Apple’s iTMS? I mean, you have an iPod now. I reall do not get it. They let you play them on what, 5 computers.
    I just don’t see why you make this hassle when ever dot or dot dot release of iTunes breaks the DRM ripping tools.

  18. Ken: Because I regularly use a computer without iTunes or the iPod software on it. It’s only got Winamp, because iTunes is too slow (seriously, it takes at least 30 seconds to start on that machine).
    I’m also opposed to the idea of DRM. I might make it sound labourious but stripping the DRM isn’t hard and doesn’t take a long time, and this latest release should, in theory, be future-proof against further changes in the iTunes code.
    As for why I even bother with iTMS in the first place:
    1. I maybe only want one song off an album. No point in buying a whole album if I only want one song.
    2. I want to support the artists.
    3. I’m lazy šŸ™‚

  19. Neil,
    The point of stripping the DRM is so that you can do what you like with the music you paid for. Sure, some people use it for the sole purpose of pirating, but that was never the intent behind Fairkeys, Hymn, or iOpener in the first place.
    Personally, I want to be able to do whatever I want with my music for my own enjoyment. I want to be able to burn as many CD’s as I choose when making compilations for my car. I also have 4 computers at home, and two at work that I like to have my music on. The point is that I paid for it, and as long as I’m not giving it away to other people, I should be able to do what I want with it. Imagine someone trying to tell you that you’re not allowed to make mix tapes from your LP’s? The principle is the same.

  20. Oops…my previous post was intended for Ken, not Neil.

  21. Another “feature” of iTunes 4.7.1 is the sharing feature, which has been limited to five users a day, and has temporarilly disabled, you guessed it, myTunes from working…

  22. Yeah, I just discovered the *per day* issue today. Users of iTunes 4.7.0 just get a random disconnection error, while users of 4.7.1 get the message that says that only 5 users *per day* can connect. I reverted to 4.7 myself.

  23. Ok, my source menu has disappeared and nobody can figure out how to get it back. AHHHH! its making me mad. GRRRRR.

  24. Ok, do you really think ITMS would have all the selections they have if they just sold mp3? No, the record companies are not going to sign up to sell unprotected music. Apple has to put some sort of protection on it. If you want to use them in a way Apple doesn’t allow, then you have to JHymn(or something), but I don’t see how you can complain about it. You purchased the music knowing it was protected.

  25. Hi to all,
    Totally off the above subject, as a new Ipod user, is there any way to transfer Mp3’s from the Ipod to another PC (like my Notebook, for instance), or even back to th PC after erroneously deleting a few songs?

  26. Head over to iPodLounge. They have a bunch of software for iPods for doing just that. Getting songs off of your iPod and back to your computer. I’m often reading about software that does what you need.

  27. Hey,
    This iTunes protection thing is really bugging the hell out of me. I tried using a program called tunebite or something to re-record it but that kills the quality and doesn’t even work properly. I saw your suggestion for the hymn site, but the site appears to be down. Why hasn’t someone made a fully functional program to strip it? I’m sure they could make a boat load of money and wouldn’t have too much legal trouble since they could suggest it’s for users wanting to hear it on their computers past the limit. Now I’m just overall pissed whenever i see the “.m4p” extension…

  28. Oh sorry the hymn site is working, but now iTunes 7.1 has figured out a way to disable stripped files from working in iTunes. Those Apple jackasses…

  29. Jippetto, Apple, the RIAA, and the artists that made the songs have every right to protect the music that is being sold. If you don’t like the protection, you can simple by CD’s. Apple isn’t forcing you to play only protected AAC files on the iPod.
    Secondly, anyone that makes a program that strips the protection off of a protected AAC file is taking a big chance at being thrown in jail for violating the DMCA. If they were to try to sell it, they would be in even bigger trouble.
    As to converting M4P files, have you tried burning the songs to a CD, then “ripping” the CD? Depending on how many you have, this is a fairly acceptable solution. The quality loss isn’t too bad and you completely get rid of AAC all together. It wastes a perfectly good CDR, but heh, you could give out the CD’s to your friends after your done with them. šŸ™‚

  30. Dave M
    Thanks for taking the trouble to point me in the right direction.

  31. OK here goes. Jsut burn a cd of whatever you bought. It converts it to .wav which has no efffective drm. So when you reload it to your computer (PC or Mac) you get a cd quality song (AAC MP3 whatever you choose) with no fooling around with code.
    I mean does anyone actually use the album cover info? Keep information free!

  32. Ok, if your source menu isnt there i figured out how to fix this!! Go into the c drive then documents and settings and then your user’s folder then go into application data then apple computer then itunes then delete the file itunes.pref or rename it to .old then start itunes. It’ll build a new preferance file and vola the menu’s back!

  33. My miniIpod was “lost” in the mail. Is it traceable using the serial number? so that: the person(s) when initializing it, and using it can technically be found?