Many people know that you can strip DRM from music tracks purchased from the iTunes Store by bringing them to a CD, and then re-importing them into iTunes as MP3 or AAC tracks. Indeed, I’ve written about this in the past. This is often referred to as “buy-burn-rip,” updating Apple’s old “rip, mix, burn” ad campaign.
My procedure has been to re-import the tracks as 256 kbps AAC files, to mitigate further digital compression and possible loss of audio quality. However, many people prefer to re-import their iTunes tracks as MP3 files, as more devices currently support MP3 over AAC – though AAC is rapidly gaining in popularity, and is supported on the majority of digital audio devices manufactured in the past 2 – 3 years, including from Microsoft and Sony.
Last week Apple updated iTunes to version 7.2, with support for iTunes Plus, which is Apple’s DRM-free music offering. This means no more “buy-burn-ripping” if you want to play your purchased music on digital devices besides the iPod, or a computer with iTunes.
However, iTunes 7.2 has a bug that impairs some (not all) users from transferring music purchased from the iTunes Store, burned to CD, and reimported as MP3 to their iPod.
At first it was assumed that this was Apple restricting the old method of stripping out DRM. Two of my favorite websites – Boingboing.net and Eff.org – immediately attacked Apple about this. Boingboing.net said “New iTunes steals your ability to turn Apple music into iPod-friendly MP3s.” Ouch.
However, it turns out that this is a bug or glitch in iTunes 7.2, not a malicious action from Apple.
Note that this only happens with MP3 files, not AAC files. I’ve been able buy music from the iTunes Store, “buy-burn-rip” back into iTunes as an unrestricted AAC, and then transfer that music to my iPod with no problem.
It’s a lousy bug. However, I’m glad it’s a bug and not a true downgrade – if Apple had removed the “buy-burn-rip” feature from iTunes, I would be upset.
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