Using FFmpeg to convert DRM protected WMA files to mp3

I’m trying to convert a load of old .wma files (Windows Media Audio) which are DRM protected (Digital Rights Management) and therefore unplayable to a working format such as .mp3 or .wav using FFmpeg.

(the wma files are recordings of songs that I wrote and therefore I own the copyright of the material.)

I’m fairly certain that I installed FFmpeg correctly.

I’m confused by the FFmpeg command lines.

For the experiment I’ve given a song the name: songx

I placed the song on the desktop and used this command line

ffmpeg -i songx.wma -acodec libmp3lame -ab 128k songx.mp3

but the terminal message said: -

songx.wma: No such file or directory

I’m thinking that either I’m using the wrong command line or I’m using the file name incorrectly.

Can anyone offer advice?

You can install VLC Media Player in the Software application, then:

You might have to get creative here. It's known that if you burn the music files to CD, then rip the files, it'll eliminate the DRM.

But what if you don't have a CD burner, or don't want to burn a bunch of CDs?

Then set up a 'virtual CD' (a file posing as a CD drive), burn to it, then rip from it.

Create a block device by creating a partition:
dd if=/dev/zero of=file.img count=102400
... or whatever size you want for 'count'... then mount it as a loopback device:
losetup /dev/loopX file.img
... where 'X' is a number.

Or create a ramdisk:
mkfs -q /dev/ram1 867328 (847 MB, the maximum size of a CD... or whatever size you want)
mkdir -p /ramcache
mount /dev/ram1 /ramcache
df -H | grep ramcache

Format the ramdrive as FAT32. It'll show up as /dev/ram1. Then burn to that as though it were a CD, then rip from it.

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I think you aren't in the right directory.
try to do a ls and see if you can find a songx.wma
If not, to a cd /path/to/the/files and repeat the quoted command.

I tried to use VLC to convert the files but it refused to recognize the DRM files.

I also tried to use Brasero to burn the files to CD but it refused to process the DRM protected files.

I imagine if I were to create a ‘Virtual CD’ the same DRM problem would mean the files couldn’t be burnt to the virtual cd.

I believe the DRM parameters are saved in the file metadata, so one old trick we used to use to strip metadata out of photographs was to save it to a FAT-formatted drive. Back in the day, FAT didn't support metadata, so that information was lost when it was saved to a FAT drive. I'm not sure if that's still the case, though.


I tried copying the DRM protected files to USB drives formatted to exFat and FAT 32 but it didn't remove the DRM protection.

Would you try renaming .wma to .mp3 or any other format and then see if it's played? Maybe a copy of the song, just to avoid problems to the original one.


I tried changing .wma to .mp3 but it didn't work.

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But there would be at least 1 way to do it. I searched convert DRM protected WMA files to mp3 online tool on Google and there were many results, but I don't know which way to choose, I never used audio and video files often.

Don't know what the results would be but you could play your material in your preferred player after starting a screen recorder of your choice to capture the material and then alter file format afterwards?

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That's another great idea, @Tecratonic, in case you're tired of finding a way to do what you want and looks nothing else works you can do as swarfendor437 suggested, why the hell I didn't remember this :person_facepalming::sweat_smile:?

:thinking:, I suggested finding a way on Google searches for convenience, would take much time to re-record all songs if they are really many, you must have a certain patience.


The DRM protected files don’t play (because they’re protected) so I can’t re-record them.

The various DRM removal tools online that I’ve tried either charge for usage or they don’t work. Some of them are only for eBooks rather than audio files.

Windows 10 offer a free DRM removal tool but I haven’t got a W10 pc so I can’t try it.

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Some time later I found 21 search results for audio converter on Software Center and I found some interesting results, and this that I opened says to allow WMA files conversion.

In summary: it's possible to convert wma files to mp3 using ffmpeg but if the files are drm protected ffmpeg can't remove the protection.

The windows 10 digital update tool doesn't always remove the drm protection, some drm files have an additional layer of protection.

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It is always possibel to crack and rremove DRM encryption on .wma files. What it is not is - easy.
You can pay for a Windows only application to use - which may be usable on WINE.

But as you summarized; that is what DRM protection is for. To protect the file contents.

What most people do is use Windows machine or Virtual Machine to burn the .wma files to a cd. Once done, switch to Linux and rip the cd contents.
Since burning requires decyrpting the files and this is done from the Windows Media Player that engages it - it should work for most DRM content.

Illegal actions on DRM-content and WMA-protections are always forbidden.
Be happy maybe that it does not work out of the box.

But it is strange that this Forum supports illegal actions on protected content.
Linux is not a gateway for getting it all for free ! Nor Zorin should be a part of those strange illegal requests.

It's not 'illegal' if it's his own content.

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I cannot vouch for other countries, but this was true for a long time in the United States.
Removing DRM used to be illegal under all circumstances. However, this has changed as laws have been lifted slightly in regards to ones own content or non-piracy actions.

This forum has a strong and well-known stance against piracy.
Nowhere in this thread have illegal actions nor piracy been supported nor endorsed.

The user specified their own products and content.

The Owner of the Copyright is equally protected.

@joshuaorbit , I agree with and support your stance against piracy. But let's not see pirates under every bed. Some users need legitimate help solving an issue and we are also here to be helpful.

EDIT: I should add some clarity.

This thread was opened and had run its course while I was on Hiatus. I did not see it until it was all over.
My initial reaction upon seeing it was - "This is not a very welcome thread here."
Had I been online at the time, I may well have closed the thread. However, this was based on that I did not know that the laws had been adjusted to afford better protections to the copyright owner - Until I saw this thread and looked into the details. That is when I learned that the thread was not actually making an illegal request.
So a bit interesting - as had I seen it sooner, I might have shut it down. And that may have actually not been the right move.

By the time you and I have commented, the O.P. has had to come to terms with that the DRM is doing what it is supposed to do... and copyright owner or not - bypassing it is not so easy.
Action at this point becomes superfluous.

Thank you for speaking up and defending Ethical Cause, however. That is always going to be welcome.

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@Aravisian you are a good guy I know. But once you start writing public howto's be realistic it is YOU that is responsible for problems that occur by Google searches, hits, and abuse. Like I get from you a smack in my face if I say here public on a Forum the howto to obtain a Zorin Pro for 'testers out there' ..... Before you know it every cowboy abuses that howto.

Uploads on Torrent sites such a Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and so on all do this kind of crazy stuff of illegal content on download portals.
So ..... I am Moderator myself on a Facebook Ubuntu (and all derivatives such as Zorin) Group with 45k-members .... I will NEVER allow these kind of questions in the first place, and most ..... the howto's as well never allow them. Before you know it we get only these kind of questions. And I am not so sure that some people agree on your terms of vue ... Nor that Zorin dev's agree what is going on here.

Just a friendly warning from my side, you are not alone in 'digital traffic' .