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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

QTFairuse: You didn't hear it from me.......

If there were theoretically a way to remove DRM, a program called QTFairuse would theoretically be the best man for the job, theoretically.

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of DRM. I am not a pirate, I don't distribute my music, but I like to download songs, and then be able to play them on every computer in my house, on a player that is not iTunes. Because I keep forgetting to de-authorize a computer before it gets a new motherboard or I reformat it, I'm up to 3 of my 5 authorized comptuers on iTunes, even thought I only have one.

QTFairUse is the brainchild of a program called JHymn. In its day, JHymn was the best program to get rid of DRM, but that was quickly squashed when Apple put out a later version of iTunes and took away all of JHymn's functionality. Later, QTFairuse picked up the torch, but the creator received a Cease and Desist from Apple. That just goes to show, I hope I don't get sued for this post.

Here's a few key features:
  • It's interface is really simple, it doesn't even have an icon for the program. You can choose to process all protected files in your library, or just drag some over from explorer.
  • You can make it automatically replace the protected files with the new unproteced ones in iTunes library and playlist.
  • Accompanying the above, you can make it automatically move the old protected files to a specified folder.
  • You can make it back-up your iTunes library files before decryption.
But there are two catches to this program:
  • The computer has to have iTunes installed, but it has to be from version 6.0.4 to 7.0.2. It will not work with the latest version of iTunes.
  • You have to be authorized to play the songs you want to convert on the computer, if only for a few minutes.
So that's about it. But now, how does it work? If JHymn was broken, what makes QTFairUse work? The answer is quite ingenious, actually. Here's what happens: You authorize the computer to play the file. QTFairuse then tells iTunes to play the file, but then on the way to the soundcard, QTFairuse intercepts the file, unprotected at this point, and grabs all of the data, and stores it in the RAM. It then takes this data, and puts it in a new AAC container, and bam, you have yourself an unencrypted m4a file. You can see that this happens because in iTunes, it shows every converted song as having 1 play count after converting it.

But what if you use a later version of iTunes but still want protected removed? You can't exactly have two versions of iTunes installed on the same comp. I suggest a few different ideas:
  1. Install an older version of iTunes on a computer you don't use. It doesn't even need to have internet, just install iTunes, bring QTFairuse and the protected files over on a flash drive, convert them, and bring them back.
  2. Use a virtual machine. Always a good option.
  3. Use Mojopac. It essentially lets you take a virtual machine anywhere on a stick, but it borrows necessary Windows files from the host, and you can switch back and forth.....basically, it's taking your computer wherever you want. It has it's own registry, it's own program files, it's own everything, so install iTunes in Mojopac, plug it in, convert, then import into iTunes. This is the choice I recommend.
Oh, also, if you want an older iTunes installer, head on over to OldApps.com for everything you can imagine.

For downloading, since QTFairuse was given Cease and Desist by Apple, it has no native home website. But you can find it some places on the internet. I don't know what I'm legally allowed to do, since I'm not hosting it, but let's just say that if you search around, you'll be able to find it.

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