DRM rears its ugly head | Rickard Andersson

DRM rears its ugly head

Yesterday, I downloaded my first audiobook from Audible.com. Following a tip from Leo Laporte of TWiT fame, I used audible.com/twit to sign up and get a free first book. The book I got was “On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines” by Jeff Hawkin.

As I was downloading the book, I noticed it wasn’t in MP3 format, but in some other strange format (the file extension is .aa). I then hit Google and found out it’s protected by DRM. Sigh. This obviously meant it wasn’t going to play on my Sony Ericsson mobile phone. How the hell am I supposed to listen to it then? I guess I could sit by my computer and listen via iTunes all day long, but that kind of takes away the fun, doesn’t it?

I searched for a way to easily convert the file from .aa to .mp3 and strip out the DRM, but all the instructions I found were either incomplete, required a no longer available version of some particular application or relied on really dodgy software like SoundTaxi. I knew I always had the option of grabbing the audio output from iTunes and recording that, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing some really simple way of doing it first. Eventually, I caved in, purchased a license for Audio HiJack Pro and set it up to record the output from iTunes. It ran over night and now I have all 8 hours of “On Intelligence” in 30 minute MP3s. It’s amazing how much crap we put up with.


  1. Anton
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 16:33 | Permalink

    I agree. It’s a bit scare how much crap we put up with, and it looks like it’s just getting worse (in some cases).

    I got Dan Browns book Deception Point on audio cd for my birthday and I have no way of playing it because when I put it in my PC it just loads a built-in media player.

    I can’t even play the disc as a normal audio-cd on my PC.

    What pisses me off is that under Windows there is a option to convert all tracks to DRM-protected WMA using the built in player on the cd, but in our case (I run Linux and you run OS X I guess) we have no way of accessing this media what so ever.

    And since I only listen to audio on my PC and my iPod, this box i completely useless to me. Well spent money.

  2. Posted June 15, 2007 at 22:22 | Permalink

    I will be downloading the same book but isn’t .aac format just the new version of mp3 that plays in ipods? Don’t something like 90% of the public that owns an mp3 player own an ipod?

    I guess it’s kind of like software that only runs on windows — because 90% of computers are windows they don’t bother to make versions of the software that runs on other players. I ended up getting an emulater to run windows on my Mac for just that reason…

    I wonder if there is an ipod emulator that will run on a Zune?

  3. Posted June 15, 2007 at 23:25 | Permalink

    AAC is a competitor to MP3, but that’s besides the point. The format of the audiobook I got from Audible is AA, not AAC.

    I believe the iPod market share is something like 70%. Personally, I don’t own an iPod because I can’t be bothered to carry around both an iPod and a cell phone.

  4. fifiward
    Posted July 5, 2007 at 07:42 | Permalink

    I use a program called NOteBurner to convert aa files to mp3, but the whole audio book will be divided into several small mp3s.

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