All About DRM Protected Music on Mac

What is a DRM Protected Music?

DRM, or Digital Right Management, refers to technology implemented in music tracks to end users from copying the music or from converting it to another format. The two most well known DRM protected formats are AAC (M4P), used by the iTunes Music Store and WMA, used by Napster and many other music sites. Both of these formats also have a version of the format that is not DRM protected.

This makes it confusing because your purchased WMA track could be either a DRM protected WMA or just a WMA. To ensure you know which file format it is, read your licensing agreement that you received when you purchased your tracks.

Is it legal to remove DRM?

No. The Digital Millennium copyright Act (DMCA), adopted 14 May 1998, made it illegal to circumvent DRM if done with the primary intent of violating the rights of copyright holders. The intent of DRM is to protect the rights of the copyright holder for a given piece of music. However, DRM is a controversial method to protect these rights because it imposes limitations on the fair use rights granted to owners of a copy of that piece of music. And these rights were also granted by law.

To ensure you know what your rights are, read your licensing agreement that you received when you purchased your DRM protected tracks.

  • If you bought DRM protected WMA, you can’t play it on a Mac. Therefore, you also can’t copy it to Audio CD or convert it.
  • If you bought DRM protected AAC (M4P), you are not allowed to remove DRM. However, your agreement states that you are allowed to burn it to CD. You can then rip it back on to your computer using a non-DRM protected format, such as Ogg, WAV, MP3, or even unprotected AAC (M4A, M4B). Get more information about this from the iTunes Store.
  • For more information resources, see Below

How to Play DRM protected Music on Mac

You can’t play DRM protected WMA on a Mac. DRM protected WMA is not supported on the Mac platform.

You can play DRM protected AAC (.m4p) on Mac, using AAC player software such as mirethMusic or iTunes. Please note that as per your licensing agreement, you can only play the tracks on up to 5 authorized computers. For more information on this, consult your licensing agreement.

You can play an .m4p on your Mac with iTunes by doing the following:

  1. Find the m4p in your iTunes library. If the m4p is not already in your iTunes library, you’ll have to add it before you can play it. To add it, go to “iTunes > File Menu > Add to Library” and then navigate to where the m4p is on your computer. Click the “Choose” button to add it to your library.
  2. Highlight the m4p and press “play”

You can play an m4p on your Mac with Audacity but it’s not really a player, so the interface isn’t very convenient:

  1. In Audacity, open the m4p file.
    “Audacity > File > Open” and navigate to the file/files you want to rip

  2. Move the cursor to where in the track you want to start playing and click the Play button

  3. To play the next song, repeat steps 1 and 2.

You can play an m4p on your Mac with mirethMusic, from anywhere on your computer, from a CD, DVD or an USB device (thumb drive, external drive).

DRM on Mac Resources