Sony sued over copy-protected CDs

“Sony BMG is facing three lawsuits over its controversial anti-piracy software,” BBC News reports. “Revealed in late October by Windows expert Mark Russinovich, the software copy protection system hides using virus-like techniques. One class-action lawsuit has already been filed in California and another is expected in New York. Digital rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is also gathering information from users to see if a case can be brought.”

“One filed in Los Angeles by Californian attorney Alan Himmelfarb wants to stop Sony BMG selling more CDs protected by anti-copying software and seeks damages for Californians that have bought any albums protected this way. According to a report in the Washington Post the lawsuit alleges that Sony BMG has broken three Californian laws. At the same time New York lawyer Scott Kamber is planning a class-action lawsuit for all Americans affected,” the Beeb reports.

Full article here.

“News that some Sony-BMG music CDs install secret rootkit software on their owners’ computers has shocked and angered thousands of music fans in recent days. Among the cause for concern is Sony’s refusal to publicly list which CDs contain the infectious software and to provide a way for music fans to remove it. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has confirmed that the stealth program is deployed on at least 19 CDs in a variety of genres. The software, created by First 4 Internet and known as XCP2, ostensibly ‘protects’ the music from illegal copying. But in fact, it blocks a number of legal uses–like listening to songs on your iPod. The software also reportedly slows down your computer and makes it more susceptible to crashes and third-party attacks. And since the program is designed to hide itself, users may have trouble diagnosing the problem,” The Electronic Frontier Foundation writes.

Full article with list of infected Sony CDs here.

“The California lawsuit, filed Nov. 1 in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles by Vernon, Calif., attorney Alan Himmelfarb, asks the court to prevent Sony from selling additional CDs protected by the anti-piracy software, and seeks monetary damages for California consumers who purchased them,” Brian Krebs reports for The Washington Post. “The suit alleges that Sony’s software violates at least three California statutes, including the “Consumer Legal Remedies Act,” which governs unfair and/or deceptive trade acts; and the “Consumer Protection against Computer Spyware Act,” which prohibits — among other things — software that takes control over the user’s computer or misrepresents the user’s ability or right to uninstall the program. The suit also alleges that Sony’s actions violate the California Unfair Competition law, which allows public prosecutors and private citizens to file lawsuits to protect businesses and consumers from unfair business practices.”

“In response to public criticism over the invasiveness of the software, Sony last week made available on its Web site a “patch” that would prevent its software files from hiding on the user’s system. But according to further research by a variety of security experts, that patch can lead to a crashed system and data loss,” Krebs reports.

Full article here.

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Refreshingly, there’s nothing frivolous about these lawsuits, as this is an important issue and Sony may have broken laws with their foolish and short-sighted CD copy-protection scheme. This is a Windows-ony issue, by the way. If you have a Macintosh computer you can copy the songs using iTunes as you would normally do.

In another article, Krebs reports on “a few choice words spoken nearly five years ago by Sony Corp. chief executive Howard Stringer: “Right now it would be possible for us, and I’ve often thought it would cheer me up to do it, you could dispatch a virus to anybody whose files contain us or Columbia records, and make them listen to four hours of Yanni … but in the end we’re going to have to get serious about encryption and digital-rights management and watermarking.” Full article here.

Related articles:
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

33 Comments

  1. A blind man running for the bus could have seen this one coming.

    It was a stupid move on Sony’s part – some idiot figured no one would ever know. Now they have a huge legal and PR problem on their hands, a few senior execs are going to have to fall on their sword and Sony is going to spend a fortune cleaning this mess up.

    Intel learned their lesson when they stalled on replacing the Pentium chip that couldn’t do math. If Sony has any memory of that issue they will respond quickly, settle the lawsuits and replace the bad CDs – no questions asked.

  2. “Sony BMG is facing three lawsuits over its controversial anti-piracy software,” BBC News reports.

    Good. They need to be sued over this kind of crap.

    Packaging malware onto CD’s is good for no one.

    MaWo: ‘name’. As in, “There is an attorney, somewhere, who has a lawsuit with Sony’s name on it!” Bwahahahaha!

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