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January 30, 2007

Sony Settles with FTC Over DRM

The Federal Trade Commission has settled charges against Sony BMG resulting from the copy protection software that was included with CDs from the music joint venture.  The decision is preliminary as the public may comment on it for 30 days.  After that point the Commission can finalize the agreement.  By agreeing to the settlement, Sony BMG does not admit to violating federal law.  However, they also accept restrictions on how DRM may be placed on discs and what notice consumers must have about the DRM, what it restrictions it imposes, and how it can be uninstalled.  The Commission cites Sony BMG for not telling consumers about the software on previously distributed discs, for making it virtually uninstallable, for the security risks it imposed on consumer machines, and for including software that monitored consumer listening habits for the purpose of sending marketing messages. 

Sony BMG must provide uninstall software that actually works (early versions of uninstallation software were questionable on this) for current and any future installations.  They must replace CDs with non-protected discs and give consumers up to $150 in damages suffered in trying to remove the software from their machines.  Past reports indicated that any type of removal made some machines inoperable.  Disclosures need to be made on any packaging about what DRM exists on the product and the details about all of the restrictions it imposes, including whether music can be transfered to portable players.  What the agreement does not require is a disclosure that ranges of Mariah Carey's voice can only be heard by certain animal populations.  Perhaps another agreement in the future could address that.

The FTC press release is here, and it has links to the complaint and proposed settlement.

January 30, 2007 | Permalink

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