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California Class Action Suit Sony Over Rootkit DRM

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the what-else dept.

Sony 508

carre4 writes "Lawyers in California have filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony and a second one may be filed today in New York. The lawsuit was filed Nov. 1 in Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles by Vernon, CA attorney Alan Himmelfarb. It 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. 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. EFF has released a list of rootkit affected CD's and Slashdot user xtracto also has a list."

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first freedom post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996757)

first freedom post

Re:first freedom post (-1, Offtopic)

theguywhosaid (751709) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996952)

You got a problem with French Post?

Re:first freedom post (1)

teh Wang (777509) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997019)

no one made a crack about french letters yet?

I understand the first two... (5, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996761)

But how did Sony's actions prevent people from suing? Was there a clause in the EULA that prohibited it? Since they're getting their asses sued off anyway, can't the judge throw this one right out?

Re:I understand the first two... (5, Informative)

KitesWorld (901626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996798)

From the EULA :


And this little bit too :

So yeah, they tried to get out of their corperate liabilities.

Re:I understand the first two... (5, Informative)

Skater (41976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996827)

Yeah, but companies always put that in. Ever go to the hospital and sign a liability waiver saying you won't sue them if the doctor makes a mistake? Malpractice suits still happen (and are won) even though the patient signed that waiver.

I believe the term is "exculpatory", and the way my legal environment professor explained it was this: "If clauses like that worked, we'd all be driving around with signs on the front of our cars that say, 'Not responsible if I hit you'." (IANAL, of course.)

Re:I understand the first two... MOD parent up (1)

erbmjw (903229) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996830)

Thanks for the information.

Re:I understand the first two... (2, Insightful)

skyshock21 (764958) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996849)

Hahaha, yeah right! I'm sure if you leave them up to their own accords they will say they're not liable for anything. And if a person signs a sheet saying I can kill them and not be liable for it is that legal too? I can't wait till Sony is bled dry.

Re:I understand the first two... (4, Informative)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996908)

I had a law prof once who pointed out that waivers from liability are very limited in their ability to protect from litigation. If Sony broke the law, they broke the law. No EULA will protect them from being hauled into court.

Yeah, but... (1)

KitesWorld (901626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997005)

Most people don't know what the law says. When they complain to Sony, they just get given the 'It's in the EULA - You agreed to it' response, and short of going to a lawyer, most people aren't going to realise that.

It's basically a way of conning the uninformed out of their legal rights, and that's the issue at hand, methinks.

Re:I understand the first two... (2)

Hinhule (811436) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996996)

But why are these texts always in CAPS? Makes it very hard to read.

Please disregard. (0, Offtopic)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996799)

Misread the summary. Going for coffee now.

(Slow down, Cowboy! We can't handle all these people posting at once!)

Re:I understand the first two... (4, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996844)

can't the judge throw this one right out?

He probably could throw it out but I hope the opposite happens. Toss a big fine and bad publicity to Sony for this. DRM went too far with a root kit and two wrongs don't make a right. Sony is going to have to learn this. But the worst may yet come for Sony, I for one will no longer buy Sony products.

And of all things, to remove the root kit you have to run an Active-X control from an untrusted site. Just what we in the security business tell people for good reason not to do.

So I support dragging Sony through the mud on this.

Re:I understand the first two... (1)

swissfondue (819240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996941)

You are right. The worst for Sony is the bad publicity. Sony spends millions of dollars on advertising to build up an image (cool, high tech, reliable, avantgarde) and then they negate all the effort through bad publicity such as the roolkit issue.

If Sony continues like this, they'le end up with a Microsoft-like image, which at least on Slashdot is rather unfavorable.

Re:I understand the first two... (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996971)

I think you might have misread the summary.

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.

It doesn't complain that Sony prevents people from sueing, they are just sueing under a law that prevents unfair business practices.

Re:I understand the first two... (2, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997007)

Lawyers like to pile extra stuff on just in case they can convince the judge of wrong doing. The EULA has a clause that attempts to protect sony from their liability, but fortatnly most good lawyers can argue that the EULA was not disclosed before the purchase, so the EULA is just there to discourage/intimidate customers from suing sony. Sony better hope that this issue dosn't get put before a jury because it will be real easy to scare them into thinking sony was being malicious.

Root of post tree! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996762)


Hell yeah! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996766)

The man is sticking it to the man!

Re:Hell yeah! (5, Funny)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996808)

"The man is sticking it to the man!"

Not that there's anything wrong with that. (=

As long as you recognize its... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996903)

Two different men, same amount of sticking.

Re:As long as you recognize its... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996938)

If you were in Austrailia you'd be reading Strokefullstop (/.), you bloody flippin' wanker.

Re:Hell yeah! (5, Funny)

vivian (156520) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996840)

I can't believe how appropriate some of the song titles are:

Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia)
Van Zant, Get Right with the Man (Columbia)
Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound (Columbia)
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion (Columbia)
Acceptance, Phantoms (Columbia)
Horace Silver Quintet, Silver's Blue (Epic Legacy)
Dexter Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie (Columbia Legacy)
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity (Columbia)

almost like they are an extra subliminal warning, given the extra Sony "Bonus" that awaits on the CD.

Re:Hell yeah! (1)

RoboProg (515959) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996881)

good catch :-)
(a redundant AOL! response and all that)

woohoo (1, Funny)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996767)

Go get em!

Re:woohoo (-1, Offtopic)

zoloto (586738) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996836)

Troll? No... funny maybe, but definitely not troll. Come on mods!

Re:woohoo (-1, Offtopic)

no_barcode (840948) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996983)

Sometimes trolls get to be mods too. As you can see from this example.

Correction: (5, Funny)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996914)

$sys$woohoo... ;-)

Re:Correction: (1)

swissfondue (819240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997036)

This looks as it will become a Slashdot classic in-joke. "To hide something" =$sys$

Re:woohoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13997040)

Subject: Hi - about your altered role.
Dear $on¥,
          Please dont try to imitate M$, you can never become one.


Anonymous Coward

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along." (5, Insightful)

KitesWorld (901626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996768)


Anyway, It's good to see this happening. It's important to make sure that the major labels realise that while DRM is legal, there are limits to what people will tolerate - and damaging peoples machines is not something that people are going to tolerate.

Heck, with luck they might even water down Blu-Ray as a result. I can dream :)

Re:"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along (4, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996884)

t's important to make sure that the major labels realise that while DRM is legal, there are limits to what people will tolerate - and damaging peoples machines is not something that people are going to tolerate.

It's not simply a question of tolerance or not; some DRM may be "legal", but (IANAL) installing a root-kit on someone's machine without notification or permission almost certainly isn't. If they get away with this, it'll be because they have better lawyers, not because by any reasonable judgement it is "legal".

Of course, I hope it kicks up a stink for Sony too, but that's beside the point.

Re:"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along (1)

KitesWorld (901626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996966)

I was kinda reffering not so much to the rootkit, but to the plans for Blu-Ray. As you're probably aware, they're planning to make the BR players 'self-destruct' if you do something with them that Sony doesn't like - Legal, perhaps, if they cover it in enough shrinkrap, but not something that people will tolerate.

On the other token, the rootkit may actually be legal here in the UK thanks to that freaking EULA.
Basically, it can be argued that the user gave permission when they clicked through the EULA - and even though that EULA is invalid here, the whole 'giving permission' thing probably isn't. Serious pain in the arse.

They'll still be liable for the damages, tho. There's already a confirmed virus in the wild that tries to exploit the RK. Backdoor.Win32.Breplibot.b

Oh, and then we've got the whole thing with the RK including LAME components.

Re:"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996985)

Is the user actually presented with an EULA to agree to first? (Perhaps I didn't read the articles as closely as I should have).

Are these CDs actually available in the UK?

Re:"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along (1)

KitesWorld (901626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997025)

There's mixed reports on wether or not these CD's are in the european market or not, so I can't give a straight answer on the second question.

On the first - there's an EULA tied to a custom music player included on the CD which Sony are trying to use as a catch-all.
Mark has the full EULA copied onto Sysinternals. Linky []

Re:"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along (1, Interesting)

Jarnis (266190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996943)

Problem: There is absolutely no way to prevent a computer from ripping audio CD tracks without interfering the abilities/programs of the computer.



Red Book audio tracks have certain format. Said format supports no copy protections/DRM/whatever crap.

This format is easily readable by gazillions of CD ripping programs. Unless you create a new format that does not play on normal audio CD players (not gonna happen), there is absolutely no way to prevent this.

So, essentially, if you disable windows autorun, you are immune to all 'copyprotections' and 'DRM' on CD:s. Some 'add errors to audio' things might need a specialized program, but they are going out of fashion as those CDs do not play in great number of audio CD players.

DVD audio is protected, but the masses are not biting. I wonder why...

Sony etc. cannot possibly 'win' this battle, unless they can legislate a protection for their practice of hosing people's computers. DMCA pretty much does that, but this time their nice 'DRM' went few miles too far and ran into few other things that are in the law books, and now Sony is going to get so throughoutly PWNED by this (I *pray* this class action laywer wont settle, I want Sony to be convicted), that they'll hopefully remember it in the future when devising braindead schemes to 'protect' CDs that are, by definition, impossible to 'protect' from copying (another word for 'playing')

Re:"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along (5, Informative)

Jarnis (266190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996969)

If you want to see how the 'logic' of Sony works, see this patent; O2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/netahtml/search-adv.htm&r=1&p=1 &f=G&l=50&d=ptxt&S1=(Kutaragi.INZZ.+AND+Sony.ASNM. )&OS=in/Kutaragi+AND+an/Sony&RS=(IN/Kutaragi+AND+A N/Sony []

For short version, see this story; []

(Sony is patenting a method for games console discs to be tied to the console unit they're first ran on. No second hand game sales or loaning of games...)

No more DRM discs from Sony! (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996776)

But only if passed by the court. Oh yeah, and just in California. Sounded better in the article.

Great, yet another reason ... (4, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996778)

not to buy CDs. Like I needed more reasons. They are already too expensive and they force me to buy tracks I don't want just to get the 1 or 2 I want. I know Sony *thinks* they are *adding value* which will incent me to buy CDs, but obviously they miscalculated.

If only someone would offer a digital download service with CD quality content.

Re:Great, yet another reason ... (1)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996870)

not to buy CDs. Like I needed more reasons. They are already too expensive and they force me to buy tracks I don't want just to get the 1 or 2 I want. I know Sony *thinks* they are *adding value* which will incent me to buy CDs, but obviously they miscalculated.
With luck this little incident will cause a change in attitude among a larger portion of the populace. People have finally started figuring out that spyware/adware/malware/rootkits are Evil (tm) and if it gets plastered all over the news that Sony's CDs were doing things like that they're going to figure out that Sony CDs = Evil at least. Once that happens it'll really hurt the recording industry because it's likely that people will start worrying if the other labels are doing similar stuff but just haven't been caught yet. (And honestly I wonder the same thing, I suspect Sony's not alone and we'll start hearing more discoveries of similar things from other labels and this will snowball into an absolutely HUGE issue.)

Of course even if it does happen and CD sales plummet like a rock the RIAA will claim it's all due to piracy. Maybe Congress won't buy it this time when they have angry constituents who's PCs were compromised because of Sony's rootkit though. That's something I expect too happen soon, there's more than enough people out there with a bone to pick with the recording industry that someone will likely develop an exploit and release it in the wild just to kick Sony while they're down.

If only someone would offer a digital download service with CD quality content.
Something like, only definitely legal, would fit the bill. I'd be willing to buy music again under that type of plan. As it is I'm happy with the music I have and haven't bought a CD in years (or downloaded anything).

Re:Great, yet another reason ... (1)

johnw (3725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996899)

which will incent me

ITYM "will incense me"

Re:Great, yet another reason ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996972)

No, "incent" is correct. Sony thinks extra tracks are an incentive. What they accomplished, however, was to incense the OP.

With love,
Grammar Nazi

Re:Great, yet another reason ... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997043)

You can get CD-DA tracks for a lot of albulms at


Sony's DRM is Good (3, Informative)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996783)

Install Sony DRM protected CD
Re-Name your favorite CD ripping program to $SYS$filename.exe
Now your CD ripper is hidden from Sony's DRM

It can also be used to hide cheat programs from various games.

no problem sony! (5, Funny)

MagicMerlin (576324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996784)

Just rename your emailed copy of the lawsuit to $sys$lawsuit.pdf and it will disappear!

Kalifornistan actually is doing something right?! (0, Troll)

Riddlefox (798679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996788)

I can't believe that Kali is doing something political that I agree with! First CARB, then their ridiculous firearm laws.... This is one case that I hope they win.

The mp3's have no DRM (5, Insightful)

psergiu (67614) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996789)

I used to buy a lot of music CDs. But after this wave of incompatible discs i just resorted to download mp3s as its sure that i can play them on whatever device i want.

Trial By Jury (1)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996791)

In related news, the State of California also announced that the trial will take place in Cupertino. Podcasts of each day's proceedings will be available from a state Web site.

Re:Trial By Jury (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997003)

That's pretty cool, first Nasa and now the state of California. Too bad I haven't got an iPod. Maybe I should go to Cupertino to see the proceedings myself, I hear it's lovely this time of the year.

By the way, here's another interesting tidbit... (5, Interesting)

Hitto (913085) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996792)

Before this gets /.ed [] , here's the text.
Quoth the EFF :
Now the Legalese Rootkit: Sony-BMG's EULA
November 09, 2005

If you thought XCP "rootkit" copy-protection on Sony-BMG CDs was bad, perhaps you'd better read the 3,000 word (!) end-user license agreement (aka "EULA") that comes with all these CDs.

First, a baseline. When you buy a regular CD, you own it. You do not "license" it. You own it outright. You're allowed to do anything with it you like, so long as you don't violate one of the exclusive rights reserved to the copyright owner. So you can play the CD at your next dinner party (copyright owners get no rights over private performances), you can loan it to a friend (thanks to the "first sale" doctrine), or make a copy for use on your iPod (thanks to "fair use"). Every use that falls outside the limited exclusive rights of the copyright owner belongs to you, the owner of the CD.

Now compare that baseline with the world according to the Sony-BMG EULA, which applies to any digital copies you make of the music on the CD:

1. 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.

2. You can't keep your music on any computers at work. The EULA only gives you the right to put copies on a "personal home computer system owned by you."

3. If you move out of the country, you have to delete all your music. The EULA specifically forbids "export" outside the country where you reside.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. If you file for bankruptcy, you have to delete all the music on your computer. Seriously.

8. You have no right to transfer the music on your computer, even along with the original CD.

9. Forget about using the music as a soundtrack for your latest family photo slideshow, or mash-ups, or sampling. The EULA forbids changing, altering, or make derivative works from the music on your computer.

So this is what Sony-BMG thinks we should be allowed to do with the music on the CDs that we purchase from them? No word yet about whether Sony-BMG will be offering a "patch" for this legalese rootkit. I'm not holding my breath.
Posted by Fred von Lohmann at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Technorati

Endquote. It's interesting to see just how far Sony will go to alienate the tech-savvy user base. It's been a few years since I religiously started forbidding people to buy Sony products, because I wouldn't be assed to "fix my vaio, please" or to "take a look at my LCD screen, there are, like black dots and stuff on it", but my brother-in-law still got himself a Sony DAP.

The first thing I thought was, "Wow! The salesman actually managed to sell him something that isn't an iPod.", but come on. What's you /.er's take on this vast DRM-wing conspiracy?

Re:By the way, here's another interesting tidbit.. (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996965)

Where is the EULA listed on the CD; or where is it referenced?

If it isn't actually listed on the CD, but merely referenced via a small URL on the package, has the person actually agreed to it?

Would they get away with this in the US? Even though your consumer laws are generally weaker than the EU's (*), I'm still not convinced that there is enough there for the person to "agree" to.

(*) A la "90 day warranties" on computers or consoles; the standard EU warranty is 1 year. AFAIK there isn't a "statutory" warranty period, but if it came to court, it would almost certainly be ruled that a computer should last that long. Actually, if it came to court, they'd probably expect it to last *longer* than a year, although the consumer might not be entitled to the full value of the computer. OTOH, the US has some "fair use" laws whereas the UK doesn't really, and item (9) would apply by default; which is probably why I thought "what's new?" when I first saw it.

Sony lost a sale (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996980)

I'm buying 42" or 50" flat screen in a couple of months. It won't be a Sony. The reasons are:

- Enough of this legal bullshit, what I buy is mine and I do whatever I want with it. Sony pisses me off.
- Sony quality, or the lack of, sucks.

I, for one, welcome our Chinese non-DRM bulk stuff overlords. With this DRM sillyness they're not only destroying the slim chance of me buying CD's, but all their hardware sales as well. Continue like this and you won't be missed.

Buying a new computer (5, Interesting)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996794)

I know that Sony's actions here will make me think twice about buying a Vaio. I'm getting ready to buy a new laptop, and Sony does have some decent ones out there. However, I have no way of knowing that they're not gonna install this crap on the machine at the factory. Well done Sony. The actions of one arm are negatively affecting sales of another...

Re:Buying a new computer (2, Informative)

vivian (156520) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996932)

Don't do it.
I bought a high end sony laptop (for £1900 in Aug 2001) and had no end of problems.
Mobo died after 4 months, and the default warranty didn't cover it. ( I was in Aus, I bought it in the UK. So much for an "international" company, which was one of the reasons I bought the VAIO in the first place.)
I git it repaired 7 months later on a return trip to the UK, leaving me with 1 month warranty.
The screen backlight died 3 months later. Sony told me it would cost over AU$1000 to replace the screen (which is 16.1" UXGA 1600x1200 res), as the backlight and ascreen are all one unit.
I eventually found a local guy in Sydney that could dissasemble the screen & replace the neon tube. Cost:200.

I bought a mem upgrade, to kick ram up to 512Mb. 5 months later,I am back to 256Mb again - but it's not the ram, it's the second controller or something - both sticks work, when put in slot one.

Oh, and this laptop was the *second* Vaio I bought. The first I bought from a reputable online shop in the UK. It arrived and died within 15 minutes of firing it up. I sent it back, only to find it would take 3 months to get my full refund, because Sony won't refund the vendor until they have done a full check etc. on the laptop themselves. I wasnt interested in getting it repaired - I just wanted a full refund, so I could go to a bricks and mortar shop and buy a different laptop that would actually work for more than 15 minutes before it had to be repaired under warranty. Unfortunately I still thought Sony was good, and that the first dodgy laptop was just bad luck.

Get a dell or compaq or something. I hear they suck less.

HP/Compaq notebooks are a much better value. (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997001)

I recently went shopping for a new notebook to use for the "standard" office laptop for about 20 people. HP/Compaq seemed to have the best features for the price. I've also tried to avoid Sony since having several run-ins with "difficult" Vaio computers.

Serves them right (5, Interesting)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996801)

I'm not sure how Sony arrived at the decision to take over people's computers, but I can't see the morality of it. "People are stealing from us, so let's damage their property."

In meatspace, this would be called "vigilante justice," but I'm not sure that large corporations qualify for that label.

Re:Serves them right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996825)

In meatspace, this would be called "vigilante justice,"
Except that this "vigilante justice" damages innocent people who have paid Sony for the fucking song far more than it would pirates, who wouldn't buy the CD in the first place!

I hate to sound melodramatic, but "terrorism" is closer to the meatspace equivalent than "vigilante justice". I hope Sony get nailed to the wall for this, seriously. I doubt it will happen, though :(

Re:Serves them right (5, Informative)

brajesh (847246) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996845)

and they aren't even apologetic about it. From this piece of news [] -

Thomas Hesse, President of Sony BMG's global digital business division, showed up on NPR to try and sweep the entire thing under the rug.
"Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it," he asked? "The software is designed to protect our CDs from unauthorized copying, ripping."


Re:Serves them right (4, Insightful)

pfrCalif (819380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996910)

That's a good quote, would be work well for my buddy:
"Most of the girls I've been with don't even know what rapid spreading gonorrhea is, so why should they care about it?"

Now they done it. (5, Funny)

Somatic (888514) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996805)

You can piss off the consumers, the college kids, the geeks, the nerds, the haxx0rs, the artists, and even other people in the industry itself... but when you put that crap on a country CD, you just know some politician is going to buy it, and then you're screwed.

Misleadings, expansions, and lawsuits abound (5, Informative)

captainktainer (588167) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996807)

Several things are important to point out:

First, right now it isn't "California" as a whole suing Sony. An attorney has filed a class action lawsuit, and California citizens (and the world as a whole) will benefit. It would be nice if the California Attorney General would lend the government's support in an amicus curiae brief, but in media-rich California that isn't likely to happen. The representatives of the people of California haven't really weighed in on the matter yet, sadly.

Second, a New York law firm will be next to join the bandwagon. Things are heating up faster than the article summary indicates

Third, all of these lawsuits are going to hit Sony *hard*, right in the wallet. Any financial benefit they might have gained from their DRM will be lost unless the lawyers involved immediately drop their cases.

Finally, Sony really doesn't have any solid defense against the charge that they violated the Consumer Protection Against Consumer Spyware Act, *unless* the act specifies that spyware can only be classified as such if it submits personally identifiable information back to the authors or a third party. I'm not too clear on that regard- anyone have information they can add on that count?

mod parent up (2, Informative)

TheNationalist (908193) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996823)

The summary is completely misleading and would have a casual reader believe that the Attorney General of California is suing Sony. This is merely a class action lawsuit by some lawyer on behalf of California citizens.

Re:Misleadings, expansions, and lawsuits abound (3, Informative)

mccdyl001 (808761) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997015)

Actually, the sony media player does send back personal information - it checks for the latest lyrics and album art for any CD you play through it. So at the least they can collect CD being played, time of day and IP address of computer playing it. That to me is spyware..

Well, how's this for irony? (3, Funny)

Chibineko (930024) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996809)

From the list of Infected CDs:
Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times


Re:Well, how's this for irony? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996865)

Even better:
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity

Re:Well, how's this for irony? (1)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996907)

From the list of Infected CDs:
Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times

Van Zant, Get Right with the Man
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion
Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound
Celine Dion, On ne Change Pas

Someone at Sony had a lot of fun selecting the CDs for their DRM test-run

Aim at foot, pull trigger (4, Informative)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996813)

From the article: "Sony's move is the latest effort by the entertainment companies to rely on controversial 'digital rights management' (DRM) technologies to reverse a steady drop in sales that the industry attributes in large part to piracy facilitated by online music and movie file-sharing networks like Kazaa and Limewire."

Yeah, because installing secretive, privacy-invading software on your computer is sure to stimulate CD sales.

And the uninstall process [] is a privacy invasion too... you gotta fill out an online form, check your email for a URL to ANOTHER online form, then get the uninstaller. And while the uninstaller gets rid of the XCP2 Aurora [] , it simultaneously installs another DRM (MediaJam). Nice. Sony, how I love thee. You're so sinister.

Boycotting DRM *forever* (2, Insightful)

snotclot (836055) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996814)

I wonder if whichever genius Sony/BMG exec did this is fired already... surely the other Sony branches love this publicity. Do people think this will eventually harm or even dent Sony's brand image? As a fellow computer saavy user here on Slashdot I'm already trying to actively, personally boycott Sony and any company that is bent on using DRM. And you guys say, what if Intel and AMD both DRM there chips? Surely, I can't boycott computers in general can I? But there HAS to be a few clever electrical and computer engineers out there who will make a new company *specifically* to have non-drm chips. Sure, it costs millions in R&D. But at the time that DRM is in chips making a retro x86 compatabile CPU that can be fabbed in Taiwan/China shouldn't be too hard should it?

good news (1)

coredump-0x00001 (922856) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996816)

This is great news for everyone outraged over sony's deceptive practices. Hopefully, this will send a message to all major record labels who may be considering similar tactics. There is no justification for sony's actions and it's great to see people standing up for what's right. Please, everyone back up your bmg cd's and toss them into a public bonfire and join the boycott!

Did you look at the list of "protected" CDs? (5, Funny)

Weatherman-au (572907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996818)

I mean, come on, Sony! Celine Dion? Neil Diamond? Ricky Martin??

If you were really serious about XCP as a means to prevent illicit copying, in order to protect your revenue, how about applying it to music that people would want to download?

Re:Did you look at the list of "protected" CDs? (2, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996995)

Sure, you may think that music is really crapastic, but the reallity is that those artists are the ones that get the into the billboard 10 and get the platinium, titanium, uranium etc prizes for disc selling.

Of course, one could argue that, people which know how to actually copy CD's are the ones that do not listen to that music (i.e. the not average J6Pack). But, some of them use their knowledge to pirate & sell the illegal copies. I presume (*I hope*) those are the persons which sony was aiming when applying this (or any other) kind of DRM security.

Now, they really messed it when they blocked the ability to copy the music to the iPod since it is one 100% legit use of a ripper/mp3-encoder (Kudos go to Apple on this) and it is very, very, VERY widespread.

I would really love to see some of these lawsuits continue until a nice end. I hope this serves as the spark that was needed to show the USA people how invaded your privacy is. And how have your government took your rights and introduced them into i-dont-tell-you-where.

As some other slashdotter said before, USA citizens are lazy, they wont be pissed off about something until it trasspases their "lazzyness-level", the cable-with-advetisments, the game-consoles-without-chips, the DMCA, etc etc...

I have been monitoring this Sony matter for some days, and I am glad to see it has escalated in the SciTech Google news [] section, from an obscure search "intitle:Sony intitle:DRM" to a 3rd place in the list (just suprassed by bill gates self-leaked memo and some other digital election thing".

If the correct people (we) make things correctly, this could be that spark that we needed to shake those lazy sixpackers that are staring at the TV or at

Cashing in. (1, Interesting)

ivan kk (917820) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996819)

It'd be interesting if people after hearing of these lawsuits proceeded to buy a copy of the cds only to cash in on the lawsuits.

Re:Cashing in. (1)

pfrCalif (819380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996889)

If the class action lawsuit is like most other's around, probably not worth it. If they win the laywer will get $$$$ and the affected parties will all a $10 sony gift certificate.

Serious work issue (3, Insightful)

RoboProg (515959) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996822)

This poses a potential problem for me, as I like to listen to my CDs at work (ripped to MP3 format, of course). Security is a real issue at work, to their credit. I can't have my music installing spyware on my employer's PC.

HELLO SONY! You are making your stuff unusable! Cease & desist, and all that.

Re:Serious work issue (4, Interesting)

RoboProg (515959) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996854)

Never mind: I see one of the other posters has kindly provided the EULA, which says I can't listen to (what otherwise would have been) my music at work anyway.

Problem "solved"

Caveat emptor! (read label, avoid zombie un-CDs)

Nice list of CDs.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996831)

Trey Anastasio, Shine (Columbia)
Celine Dion, On ne Change Pas (Epic)
Neil Diamond, 12 Songs (Columbia)
Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia)
Chris Botti, To Love Again (Columbia)
Van Zant, Get Right with the Man (Columbia)
Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound (Columbia)
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion (Columbia)
Acceptance, Phantoms (Columbia)
Susie Suh, Susie Suh (Epic)
Amerie, Touch (Columbia)
Life of Agony, Broken Valley (Epic)
Horace Silver Quintet, Silver's Blue (Epic Legacy)
Gerry Mulligan, Jeru (Columbia Legacy)
Dexter Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie (Columbia Legacy)
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity (Columbia)
The Dead 60s, The Dead 60s (Epic)
Dion, The Essential Dion (Columbia Legacy)
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten (Epic)
Ricky Martin, Life (Columbia)
Apart from Celine and The Coral, I've never heard of any of them. Maybe they should spend money on trying to market and sell these, rather than trying to piss people off?

Re:Nice list of CDs.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996947)

You've never heard of neil diamond? what rock do you live under lol.

Jazz classics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13997002)

Horace Silver Quintet, Silver's Blue (Epic Legacy) Recorded in 1956.
Gerry Mulligan, Jeru (Columbia Legacy) Recorded 1962
Dexter Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie (Columbia Legacy) Recorded in 1978

What BUSINESS has Sony got in adulterating such classics?

A reviewer php [] wrote "Now jazz fans can rejoice with Sony's reissue of 1978's Manhattan Symphonie which was the culmination of the quartet's previous two years of performing throughout New York." about the Dexter Gordon release. Luckily there is a note about the DRM issues at the end of the review.


Re:Nice list of CDs.. (2, Funny)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997027)

There's no harm in not knowing who Trey Anastasio is (lead singer/guitarist of Phish), but not being able to acknowledge the greatness that is Neil Diamond and Ricky Martin frightens and confuses me.

Will California also sue ... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996833)

... against SandStorm [] ?

DMCA defense? (5, Insightful)

hrm (26016) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996847)

I hope this goes to court and triggers Sony into mounting an DMCA based defense ("this is our copy protection system, and you don't mess with that shit even if does screw your PC"), then maybe people would get a better understanding of what a rotten law the DMCA actually is.

in similar news (5, Informative)

coredump-0x00001 (922856) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996850)

Pestpatrol ad/spyware remover now detects and removes [] sony's DRM rootkit [] hats off to eTrust for that.

No Thank You (0)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996862)

It'll be interesting to see who is getting in on this lawsuit. In other words, who would actually admit in legal documents that they purchased one of the following?

Trey Anastasio, Shine (Columbia)
Celine Dion, On ne Change Pas (Epic)
Neil Diamond, 12 Songs (Columbia)
Ricky Martin, Life (Columbia)

Re:No Thank You (-1)

rjune (123157) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996981)

I suppose you start with the list of people who have appeared on the Jerry Springer show. They seem to have no problem exposing themselves to public ridicule and scorn.

For Everything Else There's... (5, Funny)

Bad to the Ben (871357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996863)

- DRM rootkit to stop piracy: $50,000,000
- Patch to water-down DRM rootkit: $5,000,000
- Top notch lawyers to sue pirates: $100,000,000
- Being sued by the only legitimate users you have: Priceless.

There are some thought processes money can't buy. For everything else there's MasterTard (tm).

I see stupid people. (4, Insightful)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996869)

And people wonder why I haven't bought a single CD in the past 5 years that didn't come from an independant artist. Sony will just have to lable me as a heathen devil commie mutant anti-social pirating slime bag since I now get all my music from other sources besides the traditional record industry. First it was a copy protection that killed my CD-Rom drive and my Car Stereo, now we have a major company turning into a @#$%ing hacker with intent on screwing up my system just to keep me from using thier music in THIER OWN MP3 PLAYER.

Yes, I love the fact that Sony wants to sell me a MP3 player and MP3 compatable CD and DVD players, but doesn't want me to actually USE the damn things to listen to thier music.

Go Figure.

The other stupid thing is the simple fact that there is no copy protection that has lasted more than 2 weeks before it was cracked, and at times in the most embarrasing way imaginable.

The one that cost millions to develop and was cracked using a $1.25 Sharpie marker jumps to mind.

Frankly I hope the music industry dies. I'm just so utterly sick to death about the whole goddamn thing I want it gone.


I actually bought one of these... (3, Informative)

OolonColluphid (591237) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996875)

... and the part I love best is that I actually need to rip the thing before it wrecks my CD player. I bought the "DualDisc" version of the Trey Anastasio CD they show in the EFF write-up. Every time I put it in my 10 year old Sony CD player, it makes a horrible racket. One of my friends is having trouble playing it in his portable because it's so thick that it's brushing the lid. I'm afraid to put it in the car disc player for fear that it will get stuck.

Besides putting a personal ban on buying any more Sony junk, and doing my best to avoid buying any albums on their label, I will also be writing to the artist and urging others to do the same.

ALCEI claims rootkit is a virus (5, Interesting)

swissfondue (819240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996879)

As linked through other Slashdot posts, the ALCEI (the Italian Electronic Frontiers organization) [] , has a different tactic. They refer to F-Secure [] in order to sue Sony for propagating a virus named "XCP DRM Software".

This opens another plan of attack which I think will have more chance of succeeding (at least for public mind-share. I can't judge the legal value of the argument).

And the only people to benefit... (1)

curtvdh (738461) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996915)

...are the lawyers, as usual. Or maybe not. Even if the lawyers get rich from these lawsuits, and the persons most affected (i.e. the consumers) get a coupon good for one happy meal at McDonalds (sans toy), there is till the possibility of a 'chilling effect'.

Basicaly, if other labels decide to implement full-scale DRM, even if it is largely innocuous, they may think twice about the scheme once they see Sony getting their pants sued off. If so, this would be a win for consumers. Who says trickle-down justice doesn't work?

Speaking as a Sony shareholder (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996920)

As a Sony shareholder, I sent them an angry email message, and got back nothing but a very feeble robotic reply. I sent back an even angrier response (but much shorter). There was an acknowledgment, but not even a robotic reply so far.

Durability problems with Sony products had discouraged me from buying their stuff, but I was really annoyed when the abandoned the CLIEs and left me orphaned. So now they're reducing the odds of buying from them close to zero and increasing the odds of my selling my stock. Seems like a pretty lousy way to run a company.

By the time they suck it up and apologize, no one is going to believe them. Anyway, I can't imagine anything they could do to make the apology sincere, short of going out of business.

Quite a while ago... (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996925)

...a class action suit against Toshiba for a fault in the floppy drives used in some of their laptops resulted in a decision that cost them over wo billion dollars [] .
What's notable is that in the Toshiba case, not one person came forward to show that the fault had actually caused any data loss.
In this case, Sony is now responsible for every bit of malware that utilises their moronic rootkit to hide itself. It's worth noting that there's already one backdoor [] out there that does this...

Two thoughts (3, Interesting)

BigPoppaT (842802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996961)

1) In organizations where security/privacy is mandated (due to HIPAA, SOX, and other legislation) I expect the ISOs (Information Security Officers) will begin prohibiting the use of audio CDs in PCs. This will probably help Sony's competitor Apple more than it will help Sony, because it will drive iPod sales.

2) Here's a link [] where you can communicate to Sony how you feel about the rootkit situation. I used this link to send the following to Sony:
I want you know that I will never purchase any Sony product again until: a) the VP who approved your rootkit is fired; and b) Sony promises not to do anything like this again. I have never pirated a CD, and I use Linux (so this rootkit would not affect me), but you have effectively declared war on your customers. So, I will refuse to be one of your customers from now on. I am giving you this feedback because I wanted you know why I am boycotting you. I believe that Sony should be accountable for its actions.
I didn't submit this anonymously. Here is the email reply they sent me (pretty much a form letter):
Thanks for visiting Sony Music Online and for your feedback. We appreciate (and encourage) all suggestions and comments. As you can imagine, we receive quite a few email messages every day. While we would like to respond to each of them individually, we often do not have the time and resources to do so. Be assured that I will pass your comments on to the parties most responsible for dealing with them. Have you checked out our FAQ page? Perhaps you will be able to find the answer to your questions there: [] Thanks again for your note and the time spent on Sony Music Online.
The most helpful thing about the faq was seeing which record labels are Sony. Unfortunately, Columbia Records is one of them - so I won't be buying the new System of A Down album when it comes out in a couple of weeks. That hurts, but in good conscience I just can't do business with Sony. If people buy Sony products in spite of this, Sony wins. So, no System CD for me, no PS3 for you gamers, no Vaio for you Mac-wannabes, etc. Don't just complain - let them know why you're boycotting, then actually do it.

Not only it is Lame, it contains.... (3, Interesting)

onkl (930010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996962)

In Dutch newslogs, it is mentioned now that the rootkit is using parts of the (LGPL) LAME-encoder. So, should their rootkit be open-source then? "Script kiddies unite, fight for your source code rights" I'd fear. Below some babelfished Dutch. (from Thursday 10 November 2005, 09.59 - the spyware which Sony on the computers of muziekfans install do not seem not only technical, but even also copyright in the hook. In the rootkit pieces code appear sit which is identical to LAME, open source mp3-encoder. The licentie is exceeded. Concerning software exercises the copyright with the so-called Lesser Gnu Public License (LGPL). According to this licentie Sony must satisfy requirements to a number of. Thus they must tell that they use software in a copyright notice. Also the company the source code of open-sourcelibraries must provide or available to make. Finally the tussenvorm between must make source code and feasible code, the so-calledobject traffic-jams, meeleveren or available, with which others can make similar software. Sony have only satisfied to none of these requirements, but provide a feasible programme. A computer expert, of whom the name is confessed at the redactie, discovered that on the cd Get Right With The man of Van Zant strings from the library version.c of Lame sits. This is make up from the string: "", "0.90", "LAME3.95", "3.95", "3.95". But the expert has more proof. This way there so-called array largetbl sit at a place in the programme go.exe. This is a part that is used in the module tables.c of libmp3lame. The discovery is possible far-reaching consequences has on the muziekgigant, which themselves claim only protect the copyrights. Rather judges in Germany forced several companies already make the source code public and the required spullen for compiling to provide. Also it is possible claim damageses. Meanwhile details also other become clearly and this way complain the Electronic frontier foundation which the spyware make also legal listening music on iPods impossible. The organisation is busy with a list of cd's which publishes hidden programmatuur meeleveren to make and these on the Internet site. Wouter Rutten of the NVPI emphasise that the commotie for Dutch a ' meaningless tale ' is because the aware cd's are only in the United States and in Mexico available. The organisation offers information on the beveiliging of First 4 Internet to by means of the site, however. Several phone calls to SonyBMG continued call back in spite of promises to unanswered.

Copyright infringement? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996970)

According to this [] article (Dutch) on the CD Get Right With The Man of Van Zant there are strings from the library version.c of Lame [] . The following strings are found: "", "0.90", "LAME3.95", "3.95", "3.95 ".

Also in the program go.exe their is an array called "largetbl", which is part of tables.c of libmp3lame. Can anyone confirm these findings?

LAME is licenced under the LGPL. Could this mean more trouble for Sony because of a license violation?

thi5 F+P for GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996974)

charnel house. The parts of you are NetBSD user been many, not the Members' creative Documents like a [] isn't a lemonade OF AmERICA) is the Don't walk around Elected, we took are She had taken contaminated while racist? How is Distribution. As of OpenBSD versus than its Windows morning. Now I have similarly gr3isly 200 running NT

Big companies should join in the lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13996979)

I would imagine this DRM will cost companies thousands of dollars.

I support a user base of about 700. Say this gets installed on 150 PCs, it will take A LOT of man hours to indentify and then uninstall this DRM, not to mention work hours lost on the part of the end-user.

Now it's safer to Pirate? (2, Insightful)

concord (198387) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996982)

I find it interesting that Sony has violating consumer's rights in order to protect their own rights. Now for the first time it is actually safer to download and listen to pirated music then it is to purchase and use compact disks and dvds. Piracy will become a matter of self-preservation.

Also, the new shadowy status of $sys$ prepended files opens the door for all kinds of malware - these programs will use this "hole" to create hidden processes on people's home and workplace computer systems - a serious security threat to all the nations of the world. In essence Sony has facilitated a whole new class of malware, virus and worm propagation by assisting them in denying detection.

Being sued should be the least of Sony's worries.

Get Immunity! (2, Informative)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13996994)

The sad thing is that this "DRM" doesn't actually accomplish anything except false description, trespass to chattels bordering on criminal damage, misuse of a computer and aiding and abetting criminal damage and misuse of a computer. And it only manages to rack up that charge sheet under Windows!

Quick way to get around it: boot up a copy of Slax [] using the cheatcode slax copy2ram, swap the CD, cd into your hard disk {it'll be under /mnt somewhere} and you can then use # cdparanoia -B [] to rip off the audio tracks with no problem. You can even go
# for i in *wav; do lame -h $i; done
# for i in *wav; do lame -h $i && rm $i; done
if you don't care about keeping the wav files.

Hindsight (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13997004)

I kind of wish I actually bought a CD so I could be part of the Class Action Suit :(

Jail Time? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13997024)

Class action suit? Why not just have Sony face criminal charges? The company broke the law, so why not send an executive or two to jail for a few weeks. At least a suspended sentence?
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