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We can't get any R-E-S-P-E-C-T...

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Surreptitious

Sony BMG is facing a class action suit from Californian consumers who claim the music giant's rootkit DRM technology damaged their computers and breaks three separate Californian laws.

The suit asks the court to stop Sony selling any more CDs containing the rootkit and seeks compensation for damage already done. Some Sony audio CDs include software which will secretly load itself if the CD is played on a computer.

-- John Oates, The Register

Obnoxious

They thought we'd never notice or even know what a rootkit is, I gather. Sony's president of Global Digital Business, Thomas Hesse, said that "most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?" But one blogger did notice and he told the rest of us, and we do care.

-- PJ, Groklaw

Nefarious

In the past 5 years, we have seen plenty of virus writers in the United States brought to justice both criminally and when possible financially. In the past couple of weeks it has been discovered that Sony has shipped a rootkit, which is worse than the common spyware or virus, so I ask you, where are the law suits? Is anyone planning criminal/civil action at all? Does Sony frighten the entire legal industry? If nothing is done about this, will we have ANY right to tell a company 'NO' in the future when it comes to DRM worms -- Is this but a sample of things to come?

-- a_greer2005, Slashdot

Sony's rootkit style DRM software XCP, designed to prevent copyright infringement, looks like it's breaching the terms of a copyright agreement itself.

In fact it contains code written by the Motion Picture Ass. of America's villain of the week for several years running, "DVD Jon" Johansen, who was dragged through the Norwegian courts by the MPAA using a very dubious extension of US law, for circumventing the DRM on DVDs. Johansen eventually prevailed in having the spurious charges against him thrown out.

The irony of a company using code from someone who circumvented DRM to develop an even nastier form of DRM - without even saying "Thanks!" - will surely feature in geek trivia quizzes for years to come.

-- Andrew Orlowski, The Register

Yes-man

The story to pay attention to here is the collusion between big media companies who try to control what we do on our computers and computer-security companies who are supposed to be protecting us.

Initial estimates are that more than half a million computers worldwide are infected with this Sony rootkit. Those are amazing infection numbers, making this one of the most serious internet epidemics of all time -- on a par with worms like Blaster, Slammer, Code Red and Nimda.

What do you think of your antivirus company, the one that didn't notice Sony's rootkit as it infected half a million computers? And this isn't one of those lightning-fast internet worms; this one has been spreading since mid-2004. Because it spread through infected CDs, not through internet connections, they didn't notice? This is exactly the kind of thing we're paying those companies to detect -- especially because the rootkit was phoning home.

-- Bruce Schneier, Wired

Back-stabbing

The latest, found on Boing Boing, is that the rootkit technology itself has copyright infringing code taken from LAME, the open source mp3 encoder -- which has a clear copyright license, requiring certain things, none of which Sony BMG/First4Internet follows. Yes, the irony is thick: this technology that Sony BMG still claims is necessary to protect its intellectual property, apparently violates other's intellectual property.

-- Mike, Techdirt

Malicious

Princeton DRM researcher Alex Halderman reports on the other malicious software found on Sony CDs, a Suncomm product called MediaMax. MediaMax is a vicious little bug, which spies on you and reports on your deeds to the mothership.

-- Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

Guileful

"Sony-BMG should treat its customers with respect and fairness; instead it acted little better than the thugs who unleash stealth computer viruses on the public," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Halting production is not enough. Sony needs to take steps to fix that damage it has already caused and ensure that nothing like this happens again in the future."

-- Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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