Some music and video files may have Digital Rights Management (DRM) embedded within the file. The purpose of DRM is to protect the file from piracy. Each person who obtains the video or audio file has it tied to them in some way, whether it be an account or a certain device. This discourages people from sharing the file.
DRM is still used with many video and music subscription services, but isn’t as common with purchased music these days because of the demand that the content work on multiple devices. Still, DRM protected MP3, WMA, MP4, AVI and M4V files may still litter your hard drive. The files get mixed among the non-protected files and leave you confused as to what is protected and what isn’t. If you use iTunes, there is a way to check for DRM protection from within the application. There is also a simple way to check in Windows 10.
Check Multiple Files
- Navigate to the folder that contains your music or video files.
- Click the “Change your view” button and select “Details“.
- Right-click any column header like Title or Name. A menu will appear where you can select “Protected“. If it’s not an option, select “More…” then check the “Protected” box and click “OK“.
- Now you have a column that will tell you “Yes” if the file is DRM protected and “No” if it isn’t.
Check Individual Files
- Right click on any media file and select “Properties“.
- Select the “Details” tab and scroll down toward the bottom. There will be a “Protected” field that will say “Yes” or “No“.
Now you know how to tell which files have DRM in them. If you wish to remove the DRM from the file there are software solutions available, but I personally haven’t had any luck with any of them. Video is especially hard to work with. Some services allow you to remove DRM from the music files they sell for a small fee, like iTunes Plus. A popular hack is to burn the music to a disc, then rip the disc to an unprotected MP3 with software like VLC Media Player.