Yeah, I know, strong words — but I plan on making them stick, at least for a while. So what’s the deal this time? Sony went way over the edge with their latest DRM (copy protected) CDs. Short story: they install hidden software on your PC that is susceptible to hackers, and hacks have already been done. Sony has “temporarily” stopped shipping the CDs, but haven’t taken them off the shelf. You have to email Sony to get a removal tool, but there are warnings that using it will damage your PC as well.
It’s not just me. Here’s the last paragraph from one of the many articles on this subject:
Don’t Buy Sony
Accidents happen, but this was clearly a considered action. My view is that any company that actively attacks or exposes its customers to attack should not be in business. This is the holiday buying season, and I agree with my friend Dan Gillmor: There is no better way to showcase your dissatisfaction with this behavior than by simply not buying Sony. Given that a large number of media companies appear to be considering similar behavior, this would remind these companies that messing with consumers in this way is something they should avoid like the plague.
As one article stated, this is the type of thing that will make companies create rules that will not allow their employees to play CDs at work. So if you want to listen to at work, use an mp3. But that’s what Sony is trying to stop.
There are a lot of articles out there about this, and I waited to let things settle a little. But reading the history can be interesting, too. A new addition: Microsoft decided this is spyware and will remove it with their next release of their monthly malicious software removal tool. And even the government told them to stop it. Consumers in California filed a class action lawsuit on Nov. 1 to stop Sony from distributing the CDs. It goes on…
Devaluing the Product Part II – Sony Music CDs Threaten PCs
Microsoft deals with Sony DRM ‘Rootkit’
Trojan Exploits Sony’s DRM Flaw
Sony Will Suspend Use Of Controversial CD Software
Bush Administration to Sony: It’s your intellectual property — it’s not your computer.
Sony Suspends ‘Rootkit’ DRM Technology
Someone in the Netherlands did a decompile on the XCP rootkit that has gotten most of the attention lately. It seems that parts of the rootkit use the LAME mp3 encoder, which is licensed under the Lesser GPL. That means by delivering only an executable (the rootkit) without source or crediting, XCP violates the GPL Violating the GPL puts Sony at massive legal risk for—wait for it—copyright infringement.
As an extra twist, removing the software yourself is also illegal because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act bans the “circumvention” of anticopying technology. I suppose that also makes it illegal for Microsoft to do it. What a mess.