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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Unprotect iTunes Songs

By Zoe Clarke

Updated on October 25, 2018

Songs you purchased from iTunes Store were protected by Apple's FairPlay Digital Rights Management before 2009. Those restrictive MPEG-4 audio files can't be played on an unauthorized computer. At the Macworld Expo of 2009, Apple finally decided to drop DRM from the iTunes music library. But songs purchased before this decision are still wrapped in DRM.


If you want to liberate the purchased music from DRM restriction, you've come to the right place. This guide will show you how to unprotect iTunes songs easily. After that, you can transfer or put the iTunes songs to whatever device you like.


How to Unprotect iTunes Songs

First of all, we need TuneFab Apple Music Converter to assist us in unprotecting iTunes songs. This is a professional audio converter to convert iTunes protected M4P to MP3 legally. As you know, MP3 songs are flexible to copy for sharing.


It features:

* Convert protected iTunes songs and Apple Music songs to high-quality MP3 tracks;

* Easy-to-use and fast conversion;

* Transfer AA/AAX/M4B audiobooks to MP3;

* Keep metadata info after conversion.

The following part will show you how to unprotect iTunes songs with the help of TuneFab Apple Music Converter in 3 easy steps.


Step 1. Select iTunes Songs That You Want to Convert

Launch TuneFab Apple Music Converter and iTunes will pop up automatically. In the main interface, go to "Playlist" and click "Library" to select songs or albums. 


Note: iTunes installation is required. Please install iTunes first. Then, you should make sure that the iTunes songs you want to convert are available in iTunes. 

Select Music from Library

Step 2. Set Output Format for Converted iTunes Music

Click "Output Format" and from the drop-down list, select MP3. From the right side, you can adjust codec, bitrate, sample rate, channels.

Select Output Format

Step 3. Convert DRM-ed iTunes Songs to MP3

Make sure all parameters you've set meet your requirements. Then tap "Convert" to start converting.

Start Converting Apple Music Tracks

This all the process of unprotecting iTunes songs. After removing the DRM from iTunes music and successfully converting, you can gain iTunes songs in the format of MP3


Tips: FAQs of DRM-ed & DRM-free iTunes Songs

Q1. What is DRM-ed iTunes Song?

Purchased media files including music, videos, audiobooks are usually encrypted with DRM (Digital Rights Management) for legally and efficiently protecting digital contents. All songs purchased from iTunes Store are encrypted with DRM before 2009.


Q2. What is DRM-free iTunes Song?

Songs purchased from iTunes Store these days are in the iTunes Plus format: M4A. They aren't encrypted with Digital Rights Management protection and the bitrate of the downloaded music is twice the resolution of the original iTunes standard.


Q3. How to Identify What Songs Have DRM Protection?

In your library, use the "Songs" view, and look at the "Kind" column for ones with the word "Protected". If you do not see Kind, enable it by going to "View > View Options".

Check our detailed guide: How to Check If Songs Are DRM Protected in iTunes

Identify iTunes Songs on View Options

Q4. Does the Lack of DRM Mean that I Can Copy iTunes Songs Unlimitedly?

No, copyright law is still in effect. The removal of DRM cannot give you the flexibility to judge what's right and what's wrong. The lack of DRM can just help you in making them more compatible and playing these non-DRMed songs freely on devices that cannot support the iTunes protected audio format. More importantly, you cannot distribute these converted music files or use them for commercial purposes. They are for personal use only.


Q5. Are There Ways to Upgrade Old DRM-ed Songs?

Yes, but the updates are not free. Apple allows you to upgrade songs to iTunes Plus by charging you a $0.30 fee for each song. But that option disappeared quietly when iTunes Match was launched in 2011. Therefore it is not possible to upgrade old DRM-ed songs to iTunes Plus by paying $0.30 per track. However, you can use iTunes Match to upgrade the DRM-ed songs you already bought to the new DRM-free version.

Pro Tip: Apple rolled out its music streaming service, Apple Music, in 2015. The service has gained 72 million subscribers as of June 2020. With an Apple Music subscription, you can stream on-demand or download tracks for offline playing instead of purchasing songs on iTunes. However, the downloaded Apple Music tracks are DRM-protected. In comparison, tracks available on iTunes are without DRM protection after 2009. If you mean getting a DRM-free Apple Music track, take a look at our detailed guide. >> How to Remove DRM from Apple Music Tracks


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