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iPod DRM help

I belong to the notorious Park Slope Parents listserv. It's really not as ridiculous as the press makes it out to be - most of the threads are along the lines of "help, my toddler won't eat anything but white food" or "looking for a great carseat".

However, there was one really interesting post from a woman who had copied a bunch of CDs into iTunes at her parents' house, and downloaded them to her iPod; she went home and of course her home-based iTunes is radically different and her iPod wanted to sync up and thus erase all the stuff she'd just downloaded.

I wrote her a note saying she should burn a CD from the iTunes at her parents' house and duplicate the songs into her iTunes at home. But then came a much better answer from a contributor to the Unofficial Apple Weblog, who also happens to be a Park Slope Parent:

The digital rights management in the iTunes/iPod ecosystem only applies to music that you purchase from the iTunes Music Store (and not even all of that music anymore, as EMI has made its catalog available DRM-free on the iTMS -- time to buy Dark Side of the Moon AGAIN! :-). This DRM means that the tracks you buy online will only play on your computer + 4 additional computers you select, plus on any iPod you sync with your machine. You can generally identify these tracks by the .m4p suffix on their filenames, the 'p' standing for 'Protected.'

Your challenge is that you have music on your iPod that is not DRM-controlled -- standard MP3 files ripped from CD, which will play on any computer or any iPod -- but you don't have a handy way to get them back off the iPod and onto your computer, short of going back to your parents' house and burning them to CD. The iPod stores your music in hidden folders which
are not normally accessible to the Mac Finder or to Windows Explorer. This "feature," while not technically DRM, is intended to frustrate exactly the kind of casual music sharing you're trying to do, by preventing you from using your iPod as a music conveyor. Fortunately there are a slew of tools to help you work around this problem.

The simplest way to avoid this is to copy the music to your iPod as a disk (enable Disk Mode in iTunes) and then add it to your iTunes library when you get home. In your situation, where you've already loaded up the iPod, you need to use a copying utility to get the files from the iPod and into iTunes on your computer.

For the Mac, the most basic (and effective, and free) tool in this family is called Senuti, which is 'iTunes' backwards -- and that's exactly what it does:


There's a couple of other free tools called Floola & Yamipod, which are a bit more complicated but also will get the job done. Both work on Mac or PC.


For $20, there's a Mac/PC application called iPod Access that will also let you copy music back off:


The 'grandparent' tool in this space is Anapod Explorer, a very powerful ($25) tool for Windows that has every bell and whistle you'd want when it comes to managing your iPod data.


I'll also put in a plug for the iPod/iTunes/iPhone coverage over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (tuaw.com), where I'm a contributor:

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