Saturday, December 31, 2005

SONY - I screwed with your computer and got caught, here's a free CD

Sony BMG reaches deal in spyware flap
Proposed settlement would compensate consumers with free music

NEW YORK - A proposed settlement of lawsuits against Sony BMG Music Entertainment would let some consumers receive free music downloads to compensate them for Sony surreptitiously including spyware on millions of CDs, lawyers said Thursday.

Lawyers said the deal requires the world's second-largest music label to stop manufacturing compact discs with MediaMaz software or with extended copy protection or XCP software that could leave computers vulnerable to hackers.
According to terms of the settlement, Sony BMG will let consumers who bought the CDs will be able to choose from …

Door number 1: A cash payment of $7.50 and a promotional code to download one additional album.

Door number 2: Download three additional albums from a list of more than 200 titles.

what's behind door number 3: which is the time and money that you lost trying to get the MediaMax software out of your computer and any damage or compromises to your system caused by this software.

Software intended to limit copies
Sony began including MediaMax on some of its discs in August 2003 and introduced XCP last January. Both software programs limited the number of copies of a disc that a user can make.
Beginning in November, more than 20 lawsuits were filed after a computer security research specialist a month earlier traced a hidden software program on his computer to an XCP disc he had purchased and installed, the settlement papers said.
According to the court papers, the software program made the user's computer more susceptible to unwanted intrusion from third parties and effectively disabled any firewall and anti-spyware protection programs previously installed on a computer.

The Texas Attorney General’s November 21, 2005, lawsuit also alleges that a phantom file is installed to conceal the XCP files from the user, thus making it difficult for the user to remove the files from his or her computer. Because of alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005, the Attorney General is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 for each violation of the law, attorneys’ fees and investigative costs.

Sony said it had provided customers with a one click "uninstall" application that lets them removed the MediaMax from their computers from the 20 million CDs containing the Malware. [And everything should be okay now, let's just forget the whole thing.]

The point is that a company should not be allowed to place any software in a computer without the express knowledge and permission of the owner.

I hope this will set a precedent for consumers in the courts when companies who think that they have a right to violate and trespass into somebody else's property and compromise their systems.

Unfortunately for Sony, they did not learn their lesson from Betamax. To tight of control over a product or license can actually work against you.

In this particular case, I think the courts are letting Sony off easy, however the consumers may not be so kind.


Blogger : JustaDog said...

Yeah, pretty lame resolution to an intentional invasion of privacy the even the NSA would envy.

Have a happy new year!

9:09 AM  
Blogger MAX Redline said...

Yes, I mentioned this yesterday, as well. It's my view that what SonyBMG did is very much akin to plain old breaking and entering: in both cses there is a violation of privacy, and in both cases, damage to one degree or another is inflicted. The difference is that in SonyBMG's case, the infliction is entirely surreptitious, in that many users may not realize that their systems' firewalls and other protective measures have been disabled.

This opens the door to a wide range of other injuries - up to and including identity theft - as a result of their action. While I am thus far unaware that identity theft has occurred, no one can be sure that it has not, at present.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I agree, identity theft is a major issue.
If the courts had sided with Sony, then it would set a precedent for other companies to just come into your computer for whatever reason without your knowledge and do what ever they want to do claiming that they are protecting their property.

it is just wrong

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