Boycott Sony products: Sony music CDs can install kernel extensions on Mac OS X

“Darren Dittrich followed up on the discovery that Sony was playing a dirty trick on its customers, secretly installing a malware-style ‘root kit’ on their [Windows] computers via audio CDs,” MacInTouch reports.

I recently purchased Imogen Heap’s new CD (Speak for Yourself), an RCA Victor release, but with distribution credited to Sony/BMG. Reading recent reports of a Sony rootkit, I decided to poke around. In addition to the standard volume for AIFF files, there’s a smaller extra partition for “enhanced” content. I was surprised to find a “Start.app” Mac application in addition to the expected Windows-related files. Running this app brings up a long legal agreement, clicking Continue prompts you for your username/password (uh-oh!), and then promptly exits. Digging around a bit, I find that Start.app actually installs 2 files: PhoenixNub1.kext and PhoenixNub12.kext.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of anyone installing kernel extensions on my Mac. In Sony’s defense, upon closer reading of the EULA, they essentially tell you that they will be installing software. Also, this is apparently not the same technology used in the recent Windows rootkits (made by XCP), but rather a DRM codebase developed by SunnComm, who promotes their Mac-aware DRM technology on their site.

Links included in the MacInTouch article here.

Advertisements: The New iMac G5 – Built-in iSight camera and remote control with Front Row media experience. From $1299. Free shipping.
The New iPod with Video.  The ultimate music + video experience on the go.  From $299.  Free shipping.
Okay, we’re fed up. We are boycotting all Sony products until this and other “copy-protected CD” issues are addressed appropriately by Sony and recommend that our 2.2+ million unique visitors per month from 136 countries worldwide do the same. How’d ya like them Apples, Sony?

A “Boycott Sony” petition, written by Jeremy Johnson, can be read and signed at Petition Online here.

Related articles:
Computer security firm: ‘Stinx’ virus hides within Sony’s copy protection scheme – November 10, 2005
Sony sued over copy-protected CDs – November 10, 2005
SonyBMG antics may well cause public to turn on them and turn many people onto Apple Macs – November 06, 2005
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 Sony 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

96 Comments

  1. Generally speaking, I don’t buy any CD that does not have the appropriate CD label. If I get it home and it does contains that stuff, I return it to the store that I bought it from and ask for my money back (usually, I end up accepting the ol’ “in store credit”).

  2. Apple legal should review what SONY has been doing with their OS and see if there is a case to answer in opening up their product to malicious attack by other modifying their underhand techniques.

  3. To be fair though, this software does need your authentication to install. Yes, it installs an unnecessary Kernel Extension without really warning you, but the Authentication is a pretty good give-a-way that something important is going to happen.

    Also, as far as I understand, this program doesn’t auto-run, you do actually HAVE to run it in the first place.

  4. MDN – It would be helpful if someone would create and manage a list of all sony movies in theaters and artists associated with sony in order to help facilitate a boycott- maybe with a link off of the MDN home page…

    Not buying sony speakers or sony car stereos is easy, but with the incestuous relationships in the entertainment industry, it’s hard to tell who’s in bed with whom….

    thanks.

  5. boycotter said “We can still download Sony music off of Limewire though, right?”

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />
    {MacMania holds his side in pain}

    MDN Magic Word: still – damn my side still hurts.

  6. I’m with Mike A on this issue. I’d be highly pissed if Sony found a way to auto install their code but instead they give us a legal agreement then Mac OS in all it’s glory won’t install without authorization.

    What does the code do exactly? It’s a DRM codebase? I, for one, am glad to hear that the Mac is supported with just about any code. DRM is here to stay and I’d rather be included than excluded.

    Still, Sony should give a better explanation about this particular software.

  7. {After applying some deep heating rub to his side, MacMania replies to call to arms}

    Yes, count me in! Can someone please set up a blog so users world wide can sign the boycott role?

    BTW, you may want to disallow comments; remember the Glaser/iTunes blog debacle?

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool hmm” style=”border:0;” />

  8. AllofMP3.com

    If you think Sony’s rootkit is nasty wait until you see the sh*t that’s going to happen with Intel chips and BlueRay DVD burners.

    If you want to play, get a Quad now, a couple of EyeTV 500’s and simply wait for the HDCP “black box” to appear to record HDCP encrypted content.

    There will be Apple DRM from the HDCP DRMed Intel processors to Apple Monitors, ditto on Vista.

    Welcome to the dungeon, we got fun and games. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.