March 05, 2008

Remove DRM from BBC iPlayer downloads

I started using the BBC iPlayer service recently and I must say I'm pretty impressed. The BBC have put a good selection of programmes on their site and the quality is good. You can either stream or download programmes for watching later. The download feature uses Microsoft DRM (and so is only compatible with Windows) and once downloaded content expires after 30 days for unopened content (i.e. not played yet) and usually 7 days for opened content.

I guess they mainly use DRM to ensure expiry of content. After all, DVD sales may go down if users were able to keep shows for ever. Additionally the pirate kings out there will download every episode and burn it onto disc or put it up on some torrent site, therefore eating further into DVD sales. Fair enough.

The problem I have is that I would like watch downloaded content on my daily commute. The only way I could do this would be to install the BBC iPlayer software on my work PC which I can't (I'm forbidden). I heard somewhere that the BBC were looking at providing downloadable, expirable content within the iTunes Store similar to the way the new iTunes Store movie rental service works in the US. This would be good as I use iTunes at the moment and it would give me an excuse to buy an iPod Touch and watch EastEnders on the train (that's a joke, I don't really like EastEnders).

Currently the UK iTunes Store allows you to buy (not rent) individual episodes for no more than a couple of quid (£1.89 I think it is) however I don't like the idea that you're tied to iTunes once you own the content (who knows what will happen in the future especially in my heterogeneous OS environment). Contrary to my previous statement though, I don't mind being tied to iTunes for expirable content as I will be using iTunes for the foreseeable future.

Anyway for the moment the only way to watch downloadable content on another device seems to be to remove DRM.

Removing DRM

A couple of utilities you'll need include drmdbg for extracting the DRM licence keys from your system and FreeMe2 that you'll use together with the extracted keys to remove the actual DRM from the WMV file.

1. Once you have some downloaded content in iPlayer, close iPlayer completely and navigate to iPlayer's deliveries folder. In most cases this will be:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Videos\My Deliveries\iplayer_live

2. Move (or copy) downloaded media files (suffixed with '_DOWNLOAD.WMV') into an empty folder. If you did 'move' (as apposed to copy), then you'll probably want to delete any files with the '_DOWNLOAD.SMI' suffix too.

3. Copy drmdbg.exe and FreeMe2.exe into this new folder and then double-click on drmdbg.exe. In most cases after a few moments your individualisation key (like the one below) should be displayed in the top text box.

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\DRM\Cache\Indiv01.key v11.0.6000.7000

4. Click Multi Scan and Windows Media Player should spawn (if not you may have to play the content manually). The keys will then start being displayed in the bottom text box. Once complete, close drmdbg.

5. If everything went well it should have created new subfolder named DRM2. Move the file DRM2.key within that folder to the current folder and then within Windows Explorer drag each WMV file onto FreeMe2.exe. A command box should display a progress bar similar to the one below. If you see a prompt like "Enter IBX private key or hit enter" then something went wrong with the key extraction process by drmdbg--try another WMV file to see if that works at least.

|###############              | 50%

6. That's it, your new DRM-free files will prefix 'freed-' in the filename.

Update #1 [19 July 2008]: This procedure no longer works! Seems later patches from Microsoft have plugged this hole!


Ann said...

DRM was designed to protect copyright and curb piracy by preventing a user from copying his/her music, even if acquired legally, to multiple devices or computers. But DRM is dying.

When you legally download music from services such as iTunes and Musicmatch Jukebox, the files are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM). This prevents you from playing the music on unsupported players. I use MelodyCan software ( to remove protection. But remember distributing these files is illegal.

rdiggle said...

Thanks Ann. I don't doubt the authenticity of MelodyCan, but looking at your post, it's as if you're trying to sell the software.

Furthermore the blogs you've posted appear not to be your own, but rather articles copied from various websites.

That combined with your profile details and photo makes me dubious of you and the software. I wouldn't want innocent users buying something that is malware.

If I'm wrong, I profusely apologise.

Ann said...

You don`t like my photo?

rdiggle said...

:-) No it's good. I need a photo on mine, to think of it a whole profile actually!

Ann said...


Gazarnanplat said...

Followed your excellent intructions to the letter but no joy i'm afriad. It works uo to the point where you press multi-scan in drmdbg, WMP starts and the info comes up in the top box. Probem is thats it - no info in bottom box and no new foldrs/files.

I am using Vista and WMP 11 - could that be the problem ?

rdiggle said...

I just tried it on a fresh installation of Windows XP and had the same result as you. I've been a bit busy lately, but will try look into it this weekend on another Windows XP installation.

Gazarnanplat said...

Cheers for your help Rob I look forward to hearing back from you

rdiggle said...

I tried following my usual procedure on my old Windows XP system and it no longer works! It's probable that one of the patches I applied in the recent weeks killed this off. From what I've read, it's a real cat and mouse game with DRM... exploits being found and Microsoft patching them up. I also tried looking for newer versions of the applications to no avail.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for info, i just tried it on a vmware XP with sp3 which was still running media player 9 and it worked a treat :-)

Anonymous said...

Just tried this on XP SP3, WMP11 and it worked fine!

Anonymous said...

you are right
the hole has been plugged
I tried this and all worked fine until i tried to play the file and it was just a jumbled mess of colours and sound

Anonymous said...

The method described worked fine until they switched from the BBC Download manager to the iPlayer Desktop.

There was a better free app than the one described but all that is irrelevant now!

The ne BBC iPlayer desktop uses Adobe Air and I have yet to find anyone who knows how to remove the DRM. Someone will find a way soon no doubt.

Anonymous said...

download files as 4 use with win media player. there is plenty of free software that can fix drm then.

Andy C said...

I've been using DRMDBG and FREEME2 for many months now with complete success. Recently FREEME2 has stopped creating viewable files, i.e. it just creates a file that plays a random multicoloured screen of blocks. I suspect the BBC have plugged a hole somewhere. Does anyone else still have this working?

remove bbc iplayer drm said...

nice stuff you guys have here.. Thank you for the guide