iTunes playlists and copy protection

Over the past several months I’ve been ripping my CD’s into iTunes like a madman. With each CD I rip, I create a playlist of that album. The problem with iTunes is that those playlists aren’t files like the old M3U type found on WinAmp. They reside in a database within iTunes itself.

This creates a problem for me. I have TiVo with the Home Media Option. Basically this allows my TiVo to stream MP3s or pictures directly to the TV and stereo it’s attached to. Since I have a server with all of my MP3’s and pictures, this works wonderfully. But, with JavaHMO, an open source server app for TiVo, you can also have your playlists available. That is if you use the M3U standard. Since iTunes has everything locked up in a database, I can’t see the playlists on my TiVo.

Well I’ve been looking for a way to export the playlists out of iTunes to the M3U format. I’ve found two things that work, albeit tediously. The first is iTunes2m3u. This is a PHP script that will take an exported XML playlist and convert it to M3U. The other is Playlist Converter by David Lomas. This is also a webpage that does the same thing.

These both work great if you export each playlist one at a time, but I have hundreds of playlists. I still haven’t been able to find anything that will automatically do all of these conversions for me (at least on the Windows platform.) If you know of anything, please let me know.

The last problem, is that music I buy from the iTunes Music Store comes across in protected AAC format. This means that it can only be played on an iPod or my own iTunes software. That leaves my TiVo out in the cold. So, there are two methods to fix that. The first is simply burn the purchased music to CD and then re-rip it back to MP3. But, that creates a loss of sound quality and is a pain in the butt. I shouldn’t have to do that to listen to music that I actually BOUGHT! So, the other option is Hymn. This is a program that creates unprotected copies of your purchased files without a loss in sound quality. It even leaves your iTunes login encoded into the new file so you won’t try to share them over P2P networks. This gives you a way to listen to the music you bought wherever you want to, as it should be.

If you know of any more cool additons to iTunes, or ways to make it play nicer with Windows systems, please let me know!