iTunes “album only” tracks are now DRM-protected (update: they’re not)∞ Mon, 24 Dec 2012 · Comments
Update 26 December, 12:12 UTC: You can simply rename the extension from .m4p to .m4a and the file will play fine. There appears to be no DRM at all. I have no idea why Apple would do this since many apps and devices don’t recognize the .m4p extension, which only leads to unnecessary confusion (and posts like this), but whatever.
I recently noticed, while redownloading some of my past purchases on iTunes, that a few tracks showed up as DRM-protected .m4p files, which was odd since iTunes had dropped DRM for music back in 2009. Plus I remembered that when I originally downloaded the files sometime last year, they indeed were all DRM-free .m4a files.
After buying some new albums a couple days ago and again ending up with an .m4p, I investigated a bit and found that these DRM-protected files all had one thing in common: they were marked as “album only” tracks in the iTunes store, which means that you can’t buy them separately without buying the whole album. All other tracks are unaffected and still DRM-free, however.
This change seems to have occured fairly recently, and without any news coverage or announcement from Apple. All reports that I could find in forums (Algoriddim, Logitech, Apple, Serato) and on Twitter (@talios, @talios) are from the last few weeks.
Hopefully this is just a temporary licensing hiccup that Apple will fix soon – and fix it they must, as the iTunes store is advertised as being DRM-free:
You’ll find more than 26 million high-quality, DRM-free songs on iTunes for just 69¢, 99¢, or $1.29 each.
Also, if you want Apple to do something about this, please help spread the word by upvoting this story on Hacker News or Reddit, sharing it on Twitter or tipping your favorite blog.
For reference, below are all the albums I’ve bought on iTunes, with DRM-protected tracks broken out. Each album is linked to its German iTunes page so you can see that the DRM-protected tracks correspond to the “album only” tracks.
- The College Dropout by Kanye West
- 12. Slow Jamz
- 21. Last Call
- Late Registration by Kanye West
- Graduation by Kanye West
- 12. Homecoming
- 808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
- 2-01. See Me Now
- Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West
- Channel Orange by Frank Ocean
- good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar
- 10. Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst