PyMusique lets you buy iTunes songs without DRM

Described by its developers as "the fair interface to the iTunes Music Store," PyMusique is a new application that lets users connect to Apple's iTunes Music Store and download songs without Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions. PyMusique does so by bypassing the iTunes application interface all together -- a clear violation of the iTunes Music Store's Terms of Service.

PyMusique lets you preview songs, register for an iTunes Music Store account, buy songs and re-download them after purchasing -- a feature that iTunes does not support. But most notably, songs purchased and downloaded using PyMusique are not encrypted with FairPlay, the DRM technology used for all songs downloaded from the iTunes Music Store using iTunes itself.

PyMusique is the work of three developers -- Travis Watkins, Cody Brocious, and a name that will be familiar to some who have been watching efforts to circumvent Apple DRM technology -- Jon Lech Johansen, "DVD Jon" -- the Norwegian hacker who was once at the center of a controversy with the movie industry for producing DeCSS, a DVD decryption utility that enables users to copy the contents of copy-protected DVDs onto their computers.

"Just like Mail.app is a client for accessing mail servers, iTunes is a client for accessing the iTunes Music Store servers. PyMusique is a new client that uses the same communication protocol that iTunes uses to access the iTMS," Johansen told MacCentral. "When an iTMS client buys a song, iTMS will provide the song in m4a format (unprotected). Unlike iTunes, PyMusique will not add DRM to the song before saving it to disk."

Available for download as source code, PyMusique is dependent on Python, an interpreted programming language supported on multiple platforms including Mac OS X. In addition to the source code, PyMusique is available for download in Windows and Linux installers -- an OS X installer was not available from the site as MacCentral posted this article.

Johansen described a Mac OS X version as "doable," but because the software is dependent on The GIMP Toolkit (GTK), it would require Mac users to have X11 installed in order to run.

"It shouldn't take an experienced Mac developer very long to reimplement PyMusique in Cocoa though," Johansen added. "We did have a console version of PyMusique two weeks ago that worked fine under MacOS X, but it's currently in a broken state."

Johansen first rose to the attention of iTunes users when he released QTFairUse, software that opened FairPlay-protected songs, streamed them in QuickTime, and saved the contents into a new file without DRM. Johansen is responsible for FairKeys, a utility which retrieves FairPlay keys from the iTunes Music Store. Johansen also released JustePort, which allowed users to send music to their AirPort Express without using iTunes.

Apple was not available for comment as MacCentral posted this article, but their position on the use of PyMusique and other applications to access the iTunes Music Store is unequivocal, according to the Terms of Service users agree to when they first sign up for the iTunes Music Store.

"You will not access the Service by any means other than through software that is provided by Apple for accessing the Service," reads the document.

Updated 12:05 PM 03/18/05: Added comments from Jon Lech Johansen.

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