The iTunes deauthorisation conundrum

 by Martin Belam, 30 November 2008

I wrote the yesterday about using a Linux live CD to recover data from the hard-drive of my spyware-riddled Windows laptop. One thing I couldn't do via Linux was deauthorise the machine for my iTunes account.

Apple's iTunes has a limit of five machines on which you can play your DRM infected protected music. Now, of course, I'd already burnt to CD any purchases from the Apple store I'd made using that laptop, and re-imported them to remove the DRM, but still, it seemed silly to store future trouble up for myself by leaving a dead machine as one of my five.

So, I coaxed it back into life, and got it running long enough to get iTunes started, and to connect it to the Internet. This was a risky manouvere, since I knew the security of the machine was compromised.

You 'Deauthorize [sic] computer' from the 'Store' menu in iTunes.

iTunes menu

It occurred to me whilst doing this that it might be one of those problems best approached from another angle. It would have been a lot easier if my online iTunes account had a "Nuke 'em all" option that deauthorised all of my machines at once. Then I could reauthorise the machines that were safe and working, without risking security by connecting an infected machine to the net, or losing one of my five slots because a machine had completely died and couldn't be revived.

It would be even easier still if Apple abandoned DRM entirely of course.


Once all five computers are authorised if you go to your account info in iTunes by clicking your email address, there'll be a new button that says Deauthorize all. But apparently it can only be used once a year for some reason.

Once a year so you can't constantly authorise and deauthorise friends computers allowing them to burn copies of your files, I imagine! They used to only let you do it once, ever, so I'm pretty happy with once a year. If I ever get to the stage of having more than 5 computers on the go in one year, I'll know its time to take a break from computing altogether.

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