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If you're happy to pay for your iTunes Music Store song downloads, but could live without that pesky DRM stuff the recording companies insist Apple inserts into each file, you'll be pleased to know that notorious hacker Jon Lech Johansen, he of DVD Content Scrambling System de-coding fame, has figured out how to do just that.

'DVD Jon' has posted PyMusique a Python-based utility that offers a "fair interface to the iTunes Music Store", co-written with Travis Watkins and Cody Brocious. The app provides the usual ITMS features - access to song previews and the ability to set up a payment account and to use it to buy songs - but there are two crucial differences.

First, PyMusique allows you to re-download songs you've purchased. So if your hard drive goes up the Suwannee and you haven't backed it up for a while, you can re-acquire your ITMS-sourced song library.

Second, none of the tracks you download will be encumbered with DRM.

Of course, it's of very questionable legality. Quite apart from potentially bypassing Apple's FairPlay copy protection system - a no-no according to Europe's European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) - running the software infringes the terms and conditions ITMS user agree to abide by when they set up an account.

"You will not access the Service by any means other than through software that is provided by Apple for accessing the Service," ITMS' Ts&Cs say.

iTunes downloads each song as an audio stream, but only once it has grabbed the track does it apply the DRM rules - not surprising, perhaps, since the copy-protection coded into a given song is client computer-specific. Technically, then, PyMusique doesn't bypass the copy-protection code since it grabs the file before the DRM rules are applied. Still, it's a moot point and one that lawyers will enjoy debating if they're given the chance.

Last August, DVD Jon revealed how to crack the encryption Apple uses to protect songs as they're streamed across a wireless network to its AirPort Express 'Wi-Fi to hi-fi' access point. At the time, he posted JustePort, a Linux/Windows app that allows applications other than iTunes to transmit audio via the AirPort Express hardware.

AudioHijack developer Rogue Amoeba recently shipped AirFoil, a $25 Mac OS X utility that does the same thing. ®

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