Are We Close To The End Of DRM Era?

Much has been said about the end of Digital Rights Management era in the music industry. In theory DRM protection was pointed to suppress media piracy, being just a perfect marketing course indeed.

Protected music and video files are encrypted and locked by playback license authorization. The license may permit music to be copied to other computers, digital MP3 players and mobile phones. Each device must be individually authorized by an online license server.

It means that without such a server, former customers of music service are not able to play their DRM-protected music on any new PC’s or digital players. We can remember MSN Music and Sony CONNECT Europe stores have closed down leaving thousands of paying customers with gigabytes of useless DRM-protected files.

Fortunately, there are some proved ways to get around DRM protection. The first and the most evident one is to burn music or video to CD and rip as unprotected files. This works fine if you convert audio only.

For example protected iTunes video M4V files cannot be burned to CD/DVD. Another way is to connect iPod to another visual device such as a hi-fi or TV using Apple AV Connection Kit (one of iPod accessories).

Then if you have the recording device, music or video can be re-recorded in unprotected format. But you know this cable kit will cost you another $100. And of course the third party applications such as DRMBuster, SoundTaxi and NoteBurner have been developed to get around DRM.

Usually their cost is $20-$50 depending on their functionality. As of today, DRM protection practice becomes more and more outdated. At least the major market players such as Napster To Go and Amazon already went DRM-free.

At the 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo, it was openly announced that iTunes Music Store, the industry leader, would be DRM-free too with conversion complete by April 2009. DRM-free music downloads are now available for download in iPod M4A (AAC) audio format.

On the other hand, iTunes brakes their single-price rule with three points: $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29 per one audio track download. Such difference in price will now depend on particular artist and song popularity. Going to buy a new popular record? – be ready to pay more.

Another one “great” offer to Apple iTunes customers is an “easy upgrade” of the music you already own from DRM-protected format (M4P) into unprotected M4A for ONLY $0.30 per song. If your music library consists of several hundred albums in DRM-protected format, you can pay Apple so to say an appreciable sum of money for absolutely nothing.

Even without DRM, iTunes songs will still be in Apple’s preferred AAC (M4A) format, not the more widely supported MP3. As to movies, video clips, TV shows and audio books – they will remain in DRM-protected format (M4V for videos and M4B for audio books).

Finally the easiest way to convert the entire library of protected music and videos is to use DRM media converter software. The most solid technology, used by DRMBuster, is virtual sound or graphics card for conversion.

It’s like re-recording your files with Apple Connection Kit virtual simulator. Such media converters do not circumvent DRM copy-protection technology, so they are completely legal. Read more about DRMBuster iTunes converter on the software official site.

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