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November 10, 2005

Sony Gets Sued Over DRM and More

Lawyers filed 3 suits in California November 1 against Sony for violating state anti-fraud laws and laws against spyware.  The California's Consumer Protection Against Spyware Actforbids "the taking control of a consumer's computer, modifying computer settings, and the prevention of a user's efforts to block or disable software," according to papers filed in court.  Another suit may be filed in New York soon.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that it was also considering a class action lawsuit, and identified 20 CDs that use copy protection.  Staff attorney Fred von Lohmann also published a somewhat sarcastic but accurate analysis of the EULA Sony BMG gave to consumers.  Some examples:

  • If your house gets burgled, you have to delete all your music from your laptop when you get home. That's because the EULA says that your rights to any copies terminate as soon as you no longer possess the original CD.
  • You must install any and all updates, or else lose the music on your computer. The EULA immediately terminates if you fail to install any update. No more holding out on those hobble-ware downgrades masquerading as updates.
  • The EULA says Sony-BMG will never be liable to you for more than $5.00. That's right, no matter what happens, you can't even get back what you paid for the CD.
  • Sony-BMG can install and use backdoors in the copy protection software or media player to "enforce their rights" against you, at any time, without notice. And Sony-BMG disclaims any liability if this "self help" crashes your computer, exposes you to security risks, or any other harm.
  • If you file for bankruptcy, you have to delete all the music on your computer. Seriously

Earlier reports on this story also indicated the virus writers could piggy back onto the Sony rootkit.  That was described as theoretical by representatives of First 4 Internet, the company that created the software.  News reports indicate that theory has becomes reality.  A number of trojans appeared circulating via email that exploit the Sony rootkit to  take over machines.  They come in the form of an email that purports to be  British magazine asking recipients to verify a photo to be used in a coming article.  Clicking on the link installs the virus.

Good thing for Sony that their EULA disclaims any damages for this sort of occurrence. My own feeling is no music is worth this hassle.

Read the Information Week story here.

Read the ZDNET article on the trojan exploits here.

November 10, 2005 | Permalink

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