Technology Advice by Ryan Taylor Adams

Removing DRM (aka “Copy Protection”) From Ruckus Music Downloads

January 20th, 2008 · 6 Comments · Printer Friendly Version


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Ruckus is a free music download service offered by several universities and colleges. The service requires you two sign up with an approved .edu email address. After signing up, you can download their proprietary music player (“Ruckus Player”) and use it to download music and videos from the Ruckus website. The idea is that by providing students with a place to legally download music for free, piracy rates can be wained.

The problem: music downloaded from Ruckus can only be played with the Ruckus Player. This means you can only listen to music on your PC (no Macs, no Ipods, no PSPs, etc.)

The solution: The Ruckus music files are really just DRM protected Windows Media Audio (WMA) files. There are programs available which will allow you to remove the DRM protection from the downloaded files. Once the DRM is gone, you can easily convert the files to play on any device.

Due to current legal standards, you can’t remove the copy protection (DRM) from files. However, I can tell you how you hypothetically could. But remember, the following is for informational purposes only. Actually doing any of this may be illegal.

You would need the appropriate tools. Primarily the program “FairUse4WM.exe” Because FairUse4WM is no longer being developed, you would need a program called “mirakagi.exe” to get the latest encryption keys being used for DRM. You can download everything you need in a zip file here.

  1. Unzip the downloaded files to a folder.
  2. Download new Ruckus music which will be saved as WMA files.
  3. Be sure to play the newly downloaded music (or at least the first 20 seconds or so).
  4. Open the folder you extracted from the zip file earlier and run “mirakagi.exe” which will find the DRM encryption key and save it on your computer. Run the program, click “Start,” wait until it says it has finished, and then press “Exit.”
  5. Once the DRM key has been found with mirakagi, run “FairUse4Wm.exe” and add the downloaded (and still DRM protected) WMA files. Once the files are added, click next and wait for the process to finish.
  6. The new files will be named the same as the original files, but with “[NoDRM]” appended. That’s it. You would then be able to play and manipulate your new DRM free music.

The new files will still be in WMA (Windows Media Audio) format. If you want to play them on an Ipod or any other device that doesn’t support the WMA format, you will need to use a converter program like “dBpoweramp” to convert the song files to MP3 format.

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If the above method fails, see this post: https://blog.ryantadams.com/2008/02/25/why-cant-i-get-fairuse4wm-or-mirakagi-to-work/

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ryan Adams // Jan 24, 2008 at 1:10 PM

    If you tried following the above instructions before Jan. 24, 2008 and encountered problems, try downloading the programs again. I just updated the zip file with the latest versions of FairUse4Wm and Mirakagi.

  • 2 Logan // Feb 6, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    Theoretically, if I tried doing this, and after awhile of it working, it said “different private key is needed”, what would I have to do?

  • 3 Ryan Adams // Feb 9, 2008 at 2:50 PM

    Try using Ruckus to play a downloaded (still copy protected) song. Then close Ruckus, and run mirakagi.exe again.

  • 4 Christine // Feb 24, 2008 at 9:03 PM

    I’ve been trying this, but it isn’t finding any ‘keys’… 2 of my roommates have the program and it works for them, but it won’t for me. what should I do?

  • 5 Ryan Adams // Feb 25, 2008 at 5:58 PM

    You seem to be one of a small group of people for which this problem occurs.

    Please see this post for further information on why you are running into problems.

  • 6 Brian // Mar 11, 2008 at 3:38 PM

    I can’t get it to work, you said you might post something later? I haven’t seen that yet. Any suggestions?

  • 7 Ryan Adams // Mar 12, 2008 at 3:40 PM

    Brian » If you are having any issues with the above steps, the first thing you should do is read my follow-up post located here: https://blog.ryantadams.com/2008/02/25/why-cant-i-get-fairuse4wm-or-mirakagi-to-work/

  • 8 Ryan Adams // May 17, 2008 at 12:29 PM

    I am still investigating other (more reliable) ways of removing the DRM protection from Ruckus downloads.

  • 9 Kirby // May 18, 2008 at 8:56 PM

    where are the converted files located? or do they become the old file? because if they become the original file, then mine files from ruckus aren’t working either

  • 10 Ryan Adams // May 18, 2008 at 9:11 PM

    @Kirby: When you run FairUse4WM, there is a selection box at the bottom that will let you select the output location. No matter what your selection, it will not over-write the original files.

  • 11 Rayburn // May 30, 2008 at 5:57 PM

    If this is illegal, then why is it available to download if this is posted “for informational purposes only”?

  • 12 Ryan Adams // May 30, 2008 at 6:23 PM

    @Rayburn: It MAY be illegal. It depends on where you are located, how you acquired the audio files, why you are removing the DRM from them, etc.

    I can’t possible know the laws in every jurisdiction, so it is up to the reader to determine if actually carryout the steps is legal in their situation.

  • 13 Rachel // Jun 29, 2008 at 5:44 PM

    Is there actually any reason that one should consider using Ruckus take the effort to remove the copy protection and (if necessary) to convert the files over using Ares, Limewire, or some other file-sharing program?

  • 14 Ryan Adams // Jun 29, 2008 at 11:51 PM

    @Rachel: There are three reasons I can think of.

    First, from the legal perspective. Downloading a song using Limewire or the like is 100% illegal in the united states. Ruckus on the other hand gives you permission to download the music. Removing the DRM is sort of a gray-area. It seems that most of the legal issues that arise from removing DRM are related to breaking the Ruckus terms of service and/or “fair use.”

    The second reason, in terms of the end-user is simple. It’s much easier to get caught downloading songs through Limewire than it is removing the DRM from legally obtained music.

    Finally, if a person has downloaded even just 10 songs through Ruckus, it’s probably easier to un-DRM those files, than try to find and download new copies.