Open source lessons from the Sony scandal

Open source lessons from the Sony scandal

Summary: Can we work on an open source system that will discourage mass market pirates while promoting fair use?

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TOPICS: Open Source
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The Sony "rootkit scandal" is either over or just getting started. But already there are some important open source lessons coming out.

  1. Secrecy Doesn't Work -- Sony decided to secretly put this software out as long as eight months ago, but secrets don't stay secret forever. Now Sony has enormous potential liabilities.
  2. Lines Get Blurry Fast -- The difference between "goodware" and "malware" can disappear very quickly. Some think that the difference comes down to motive, do you have good intentions. Others believe it comes down to actions.
  3. PR won't solve everything -- Once a scandal gets going the ability of PR to solve it becomes minimal. Without seriously addressing a community, small actions can quickly become big scandals.
  4. Dialogue is limited -- Sony chose this route only because it felt stymied in the court of public opinion. There are bad people mass-producing unlicensed Sony DVDs and CDs, which does cost Sony money. The company's critics should be helping solve that problem.

There is a solution to all this, and let me offer it as a modest proposal. Can we work on an open source system that will discourage mass market pirates while promoting fair use? Check here and here for news. And start talking seriously to these concerns.

Topic: Open Source

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12 comments
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  • Why just open source?

    I think your lessons should be widely heeded by proprietary closed
    source software companies as well. Selling crippled products,
    installing programs without consumer consent, damaging your
    customers' property are all things to be avoided, no matter the
    type of license you use for your product.
    tic swayback
    • Go further...

      I agree 100% with what you wrote, but I would take it a step further. All companies - not just software companies - need to take note of what is happening here.

      Screwing the customer == bad, no matter what the intentions.

      My 2 cents.
      Chad Strunk
      • DRM, anyone? (NT)

        hehe
        thetargos
  • Why just open source?

    I think your lessons should be widely heeded by proprietary closed
    source software companies as well. Selling crippled products,
    installing programs without consumer consent, damaging your
    customers' property are all things to be avoided, no matter the
    type of license you use for your product.
    tic swayback
  • NO

    Why open source.
    If a company comes up with a solution, why not accept that. There are plenty of solutions already from companies like Microsoft, Apple, Real Networks. Take the best solution.
    zzz1234567890
    • You're kidding, right?

      Sony came up with a solution. You think everyone should just accept it?

      Do you even allow that open source might be the best solution?
      mosborne
  • Forgot one that we'll learn in six months.

    The Media, and by consequence the public, has short memory.

    I would suggest most individuals remain totally unaware to this scandal. Of those that are, few beyond the technically capable will appreciate the magnatude of this transgression.
    Zinoron
    • But will the artists remember?

      Take a look at Van Zant's latest cd on Amazon, and read the
      customer reviews. Guess he won't be selling any cd's there for a
      while. Sony will dump him and move on, but this will put a serious
      damper on his career.
      tic swayback
  • Do open source and DRM mix well?

    An open-source, freely licensed DRM would provide for
    protected music what MP3 provides for free music: a standard
    that every manufacturer can support, even Apple. That would
    make FairPlay a value-added format (perhaps for higher quality
    music formats). Sounds about right -- you could still choose the
    open-source DRM format rather than the FairPlay format for
    cross-platform music management.

    But could any DRM mechanism not be compared to a Trojan
    horse? It depends on your opinion of rights management.
    Perhaps the concept of DRM is simply not appropriate in the
    open-source world, and that's a good thing. We as consumers
    will always have alternatives, even in a world where Apple is the
    Tower of Power.
    tonyaaa4
    • Important Points

      Anyone who seeks to dismiss what Tony says should know more about him. He has been in this business even longer than I have, first as editor of the old User's Guide to CP/M (and if you know what CP/M was you have plenty of gray up top).

      Tony then reversed the career path of Thomas Dolby, the rock star turned tech entrepreneur. It's Tony who's now the rock star, with the band Flying Other Brothers. I should add that he's one of my son's favorites.

      So Tony has been on both sides of this table. He's the voice of experience and wisdom, as far as I'm concerned.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • Restrictions management

      A 'Trojan Horse' is a program promising one thing and delivering something else. Truthfully presented 'Digital restrictions management' is not a trojan and does not require hiding and if written to not infringe on other programs and operating system capabilities quite acceptable.
      I abide by copyright, you stop trying to extend it to prevent new uses.
      plumley9
  • Strange Point of View, considering ...

    Sony hides a 'worm' in the activation of an 'Audio' CD. They hit 99% on impact by attacking Windows. The worm doesn't work on Mac or Linux or BSD, only Windows.
    Now we have a cry for help to the 'Open Source' crowd to stop 'those nasty pirates'.
    Did he mean "Sony or BMG or Columbia or .."
    Sorry, he thinks those Captains of Industry are just 'free-booting bucaners' not 'pirates'!
    plumley9