Beyond holding back the entry of iTunes Music Store in both Japan and Australia, where Apple decided to eventually open for business without SonyBMG, SonyBMG’s copy-protected faux CDs are causing difficulties for Windows users worldwide.
“The mainstream media took their time in bringing readers attention to SonyBMG’s activities, perhaps faced with withdrawal of advertising revenue, but the story has now grown so large that not even your local newspaper or TV station can ignore it,” Les Posen writes in his CyberPsych blog. “Two security-based websites individually investigated reports from readers about Windows PC difficulties. F-Secure and SysInternals each devoted extensive blogspace to sleuthing so-called ‘rootkit’ problems. These are often the source of malware and spyware on PCs… Investigation revealed that the source was a SonyBMG legally purchased CD of a van Zant music album, complete with content protection software which self-installed after the operator agreed to a EULA in order to play the CD. Now when was the last time you recall putting a CD in your car, or on your Mac and agreeing to an EULA before it could play?”
Posen writes, “In any case, the SonyBMG CD installed what some have come to call its own version of spyware. In any case, once the blogging and security world jumped on it, and it then made mainstream via technology columns and radio broadcasts and podcasts, SonyBMG added a service pack to its support site – yes a service pack for music! Only in the Windows world! The pack ‘uncloaked’ the SonyBMG DRM components but did not remove them. Previous attempts by others to remove it saw CD functionality disabled, re-enabled only with a fresh install of Windows OS… Also, on the SonyBMG website where the patch resides is an FAQ section, with one section devoted to owners of iPods who wish to legally transfer their CD content to listen on the go.”
Posen describes the online patch signup process, “So I entered the details of a Dianna Krall CD I had listened to last night at friends’ which I recalled was on Verve, a SonyBMG-owned label. And included my .mac email address. In a few minutes, a canned response was received. It started this way.”
Thank you for contacting Sony BMG Online. We appreciate your purchase of our CD and apologize for any inconvenience. Please follow the instructions below in order to move your content into iTunes and onto an iPod.
Here’s the advice offered to Mac users:
If you have a Macintosh computer you can copy the songs using your iTunes Player as you would normally do.
Posen writes, “That’s it. One line – stick the CD in, and rip as you ordinarilty would with Apple’s ease of use. Scroll down further in the email and we discover advice to Windows users, who by now will be saying to themselves, having already gone through a patching experience, ‘Oh, no, not more Windows nonsense.'”
Here’s the advice offered to Windows sufferers:
If you have a PC place the CD into your computer and allow the Sony BMG audio player on the CD to automatically start. If the player software does not automatically start, open your Windows Explorer. Locate and select the drive letter for your CD drive. On the disc you will find either a file named LaunchCD.exe or Autorun.exe. Double-click this file to manually start the player. TIP: If your CD does not contain either the LaunchCD.exe or Autorun.exe files, it may not be compatible with this iPod solution. Please reply to this letter for more information. Once the Sony BMG player application has been launched and the End User License Agreement has been accepted, you can click the Copy Songs button on the top menu. Follow the instructions to copy the secure Windows Media Files (WMA) to your PC. Make a note of where you are copying the songs to, you will need to get to these secure Windows Media Files in the next steps. Once the WMA files are on your PC you can open and listen to the songs with Windows Media Player 9.0 or higher (or another fully compatible player that can playback secure WMA files, such as MusicMatch, RealPlayer, and Winamp). You can then burn the songs to a standard Audio CD. Please note that in order to burn the files, you will need to upgrade to, or already have, Windows Media Player 9 or 10. Once the standard Audio CD has been created, place this copied CD back into your computer and open iTunes. iTunes can now rip the songs as you would any normal audio CD.
Posen writes, “After all this, SonyBMG ends up trying to blame Apple for its DRM:”
Please note an easier and more acceptable solution requires cooperation from Apple, who we have already reached out to in hopes of addressing this issue. To help speed this effort, we ask that you use the following link to contact Apple and ask them to provide a solution that would easily allow you to move content from protected CDs into iTunes or onto your iPod rather than having to go through the additional steps above: http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipod.html Thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance.
Posen asks, “So all of this Windows sophistry is Apple’s fault… correct?”
“I wonder if SonyBMG truly believes one can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public? If it’s true that Windows owns 90% of domestic desktops, then they have reason to believe its truth. But if evidence exists that Apple market share is slowly increasing, along with alternate browsers to Internet Explorer, then there is also evidence that a gullible public may well turn on SonyBMG… If SonyBMG keeps up these efforts, they will be turning a lot of people onto Macs,” Posen writes.
More in the full article here.
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Our advice to Sony: give up the music device and music service markets. You’ve already lost badly and you simply look foolish and full of sour grapes. Concentrate on working WITH Apple and you’ll end up with Sony monitors, cameras, etc. in Apple Stores, Sony Pro products tied to Apple’s pro audio & video applications and systems plus, who knows, maybe even a Mac OS X license for your PCs (okay, that’s pushing it, but you get the idea).
As an aside, have you ever noticed the instructions that accompany a new printer, scanner, or other peripheral that ships with Mac and Windows directions? The Mac directions are a few lines, maybe a paragraph or two, while the Windows directions go on for pages and pages. We wonder, do Windows users notice that difference and, if they do, what do they think about the discrepancy, if anything?
Report: Sony copy-protected CDs may hide Windows rootkit vulnerability – November 01, 2005
Analyst: Sony BMG’s boycott of Apple’s iTunes Music Store Australia won’t last long – October 24, 2005
Apple launches iTunes Music Store Australia – October 24, 2005
How to beat Apple iPod-incompatible Sony BMG and EMI copy-protected CDs – October 04, 2005
Japan music labels look to impose ‘iPod Tax’ while Sony, Warner still not signing with Apple iTunes – October 10, 2005
Why aren’t Sony, BMG, Warner, Victor making their artists’ music available on Apple’s iTunes Japan? – October 06, 2005
Sony and Warner holding out on Apple iTunes Music Store Australia – September 08, 2005
Musicians stage mutiny against Sony, defiantly offer music via Apple’s iTunes Music Store – August 10, 2005
Sony BMG and EMI try to force Apple to ‘open’ iPod with iPod-incompatible CDs – June 20, 2005
New Song BMG copy-protected CDs lock out Apple iPod owners – June 01, 2005
Record company causes Apple to hit ‘pause’ on Australian iTunes Music Store – May 05, 2005