Sony settles class action lawsuit over DRM

Sony settles class action lawsuit over DRM

Summary: The record label has agreed to offer US customers money and free downloads to encourage them to replace CDs that secretly install rootkit software

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TOPICS: Government UK
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Sony BMG has struck a deal with the plaintiffs involved in a class action lawsuit over copy-restriction software it used in music CDs, according to a settlement document filed at a New York court on Wednesday.

The record label has agreed to compensate buyers of CDs that contained the XCP and MediaMax DRM programs, and to provide software utilities to allow consumers to uninstall both types of software from their computer.

The furore over Sony's DRM software began at the end of October when a US programmer discovered that XCP software on a Sony music CD had installed copy-restriction software on his computer that was hidden using a rootkit. Antivirus companies later discovered Trojan horses that exploited this software to avoid detection and found that another type of Sony DRM, MediaMax, also posed a security risk.

During November a number of individuals filed cases against Sony at courts across America. These cases were granted class action status on 1 December.

Sony BMG met lawyers from the firm handling the class action suit in early December and engaged in "virtual round-the-clock settlement negotiations", according to the settlement filing, which has been posted on the Sunbelt Software Web site.

In the settlement filing, Sony states that it will immediately recall all XCP CDs and replace them with a non-contented protected CD. It has also agreed to offer incentives to US customers to "ensure that XCP CDs are promptly removed from the market". Sony first released details about its CD recall scheme in late November.

Customers who exchange their XCP CD can either download three albums from a list of over 200 titles, or can claim a cash payment of $7.50 (£4.36) and a free download of one album. To claim this compensation, customers must return their XCP CDs to Sony, or provide the company with a receipt showing they returned or exchanged the CD at a retailer after November 14.

Sony is not recalling MediaMax CDs, but has agreed to compensate buyers of these albums by allowing them to download one free album, as well as offering them MP3 versions of the music on the MediaMax album.

More details on the settlement filing, which is awaiting approval by the district court in the southern district of New York, can be found on the Sunbelt Web site.

Topic: Government UK

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20 comments
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  • DBS = Don't Buy SONY
    anonymous
  • Hmm i suspect the people who 'dont buy sony' , probably dont buy any music whatsoever and are just criminal piraters
    anonymous
  • You have to wonder now, will Sony get a big win by introducing people to their download site? While they could be shaky in the ethics department as evidenced by their renegade measure, their PR department could score them some big points with this move.
    anonymous
  • Well, you'd be wrong, Jon. Having principles about what companies you buy from is a motivator for some people. Remember principles? Or are you a Sony exec?
    anonymous
  • I have nothing to do with sony

    Its quite simple you dont own the music you buy, you own a right to play it, companies have to a right to protect their products from thiefs and as i said before most people who think sony are wrong probably dont buy any music at all
    anonymous
  • Sony infected my computer and after I got it re-loaded and Sony clean I sent back the Van Zant CD Right With The Man ..
    Sony replaced the Van Zant CD in about 4 weeks.

    Except inside the Sony/BMG Van Zant Right With The Man CD case was a cd from Cypress Hill.

    Sony !!! I AM NOT AMUSED...
    anonymous
  • Jon,

    I hate you for your comments.
    anonymous
  • Thank you for your informative post
    anonymous
  • Simply put, up until about a year ago I owned a small stake in Sony, stock is what I'm talking about. But something didn't feel right, the shares started dropping in price and I sold out quickly. Lost money too. But am really glad that I dumped them then and not now as they took a nosedive. Their DRM can and has ruined computers, but their paltry settelment is garbage. Were one of my computers to die because of their DRM, I sure wouldn't join the class action. And for those out there who think they have to, that's a crock If your computer had a major problem because of their DRM, then don't settle, instead taking the next step and making them pay for your computer, plus since they did this without giving anyone knowledge of it, you get treble damages. My computers, be they my iMac G5. G3 or my custom-built Compatible (remember Mac's and Compatibles are both Personal Computers and anyone who says differently, including Steve Jobs, is full of crap) cost a pretty penny. If they were damaged to the extent I would have to replace one or all, well then Sony would have to replace them and that would include all software. And remember, say you buy a PC for aroound $800. To get enough software, including anti-virus, phishing, pharming and any other anti you can think of, plus programs you have had to buy, including XP be it Home or Pro, makes the actual cost of the machine a lot closer to $2,000 or more. Count it up. Think of what you've spent on programs, renewing programs each year, the problems with patching them and so on and on, then the computer costs a lot more than you thought it would when you pulled it out of that box and set it up for the first time. Don't get fooled by that seven and a half bucks and three albums. The first CD is the most expensive, with the rest just copies, much like any sart person makes with a program, CD she/he bought or whatever that person copied as long as it was legal. More money, time, etc. Like I said, don't take that settlement. Make Sony pay for their shenanigans. You spent your time and effort to make sure your computer wasn't damaged beyond repair or bought a new one if it was. Sony should have to pay for each persons time, at the going rate fora programmer, call it $50 an hour or whatever a programmer makes. Plus the hassle. Only the lawyers are making money on this settlement. Keep it yourself, or at least as much as possible.
    anonymous
  • Simply put, up until about a year ago I owned a small stake in Sony, stock is what I'm talking about. But something didn't feel right, the shares started dropping in price and I sold out quickly. Lost money too. But am really glad that I dumped them then and not now as they took a nosedive. Their DRM can and has ruined computers, but their paltry settelment is garbage. Were one of my computers to die because of their DRM, I sure wouldn't join the class action. And for those out there who think they have to, that's a crock If your computer had a major problem because of their DRM, then don't settle, instead taking the next step and making them pay for your computer, plus since they did this without giving anyone knowledge of it, you get treble damages. My computers, be they my iMac G5. G3 or my custom-built Compatible (remember Mac's and Compatibles are both Personal Computers and anyone who says differently, including Steve Jobs, is full of it) cost a pretty penny. If they were damaged to the extent I would have to replace one or all, well then Sony would have to replace them and that would include all software. And remember, say you buy a PC for aroound $800. To get enough software, including anti-virus, phishing, pharming and any other anti you can think of, plus programs you have had to buy, including XP be it Home or Pro, any of the programs for OSX (Apple) makes the actual cost of the machine a lot closer to $2,000 or more for compatibles or $3,000 to $5,000 for a Mac. Count it up. Think of what you've spent on programs, renewing programs each year, the problems with patching them and so on and on, then the computer costs a lot more than you thought it would when you pulled it out of that box and set it up for the first time. Don't get fooled by that seven and a half bucks and three albums. The first CD is the most expensive, with the rest just copies, much like any smart person makes with a program, CD she/he bought or whatever that person copied as long as it was legal. More money, time, etc. Like I said, don't take that settlement. Make Sony pay for their shenanigans. You spent your time and effort to make sure your computer wasn't damaged beyond repair or bought a new one if it was. Sony should have to pay for each persons time, at the going rate for a programmer, call it $50 an hour or whatever a programmer makes. Plus the hassle. Only the lawyers are making money on this settlement. Keep it yourself, or at least as much as possible.
    anonymous
  • I dnt know who this darn jon person is he/it must have big slices in Sony cus he is defending them so firmly ,

    Personally i think Sony should be HUNG OUT TO DRY then fried till crispy then forced to completely replace any software they have damaged at there own expense to include paying fro professionals to carry out the work world wide if needed

    DRM the RIAA and the rst all need canning and the American people have the ability and power to do that IF they can be bothered that is ..
    anonymous
  • No one has actually answered the question, do any of the people slagging of Sony actually buy ANY music, (or software) or are they just the normal linux using microsoft/intel hating criminals that hang around this board

    Difference between someone who illegally downloads music and someone who walks into a shop and shoplifts =ZERO
    anonymous
  • Jon,

    Yes I do buy music occasionally. I have certainly never downloaded any illegally.

    Yes I do use Linux, and, NO: I am not a criminal.

    I was thinking of buying a PSP for my son for Christmas but will not be buying anything from Sony until they display a great deal more humility.

    You seem to have missed the point! All the people who got their machines infected bought CDs from Sony.
    anonymous
  • Yeah I buy music, I buy software and I'm also an MCP (Microsoft Certified Profesional). But what Sony have done is simply wrong. To install a peice of software on the system without someones knowledge is abuse of power.

    If there had been a warning and agreement screen then, maybe, that would have been acceptable. I have to ask Jon, with your defense of Sony DRM do you think that spyware is fine? I believe that what Sony did was directly compariable to what spyware is and does.
    anonymous
  • That's true. I have never stolen anything and have definitely not downloaded music online. But on the same side of the coin, I don't contribute anything to society. I show up to work, do what I'm told, repeat the same routine, collect my paycheck and go home. Every day is exactly the same: I give only as much of myself as I'm compensated for. I will die as if I had never lived.
    anonymous
  • John wrote:

    "Its quite simple you dont own the music you buy, you own a right to play it, companies have to a right to protect their products from thiefs and as i said before most people who think sony are wrong probably dont buy any music at all"

    So whatever Sony does to protect its rights is okay, according to you? So I buy a CD and I not only am forced to let the DRM software be installed, Sony's install process doesn't (a) warn me that it is about to install software which may seriously compromise my computer's security and (b) provide me with a means to uninstall that software when I've decided I don't want to have it on my computer any more. And you're okay with this?
    anonymous
  • Jon wrote:
    "No one has actually answered the question, do any of the people slagging of Sony actually buy ANY music, (or software) or are they just the normal linux using microsoft/intel hating criminals that hang around this board

    Difference between someone who illegally downloads music and someone who walks into a shop and shoplifts =ZERO"

    Yes, I buy music. I have a large collection of CDs I've purchased, and MP3 tracks from old vinyl (60's era EMI stuff you can't buy in ANY form, never mind just CDs). I run WIndows XP on my networked computers. The desktop box is a dual-boot with Linux on the other partiion, because there's things Linux can do that XP can't and vice-versa. For similar reasons I have an iBook running OS X 10.3 - because there's things Mac software can do that Windows and Linux can't.

    And none of this is really relevant to the issue at hand. You appear to support Sony's right to clandestinely install software which can leave systems open to intrusion. So now that I've answered your question, how about you answer mine? Why do you think Sony's right to protect it's content should extend to putting my hardware and software at risk?

    I await with interest what will likely be an extended silence.
    anonymous
  • Of course there's no response.

    Interesting that there's no response to your last question.

    These "they have a right to protect themselves" fanboys seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that it has gotten to the point of being EASIER, SAFER and MORE RELIABLE to pirate software/music than it is to purchase it legitimately.

    If you purchase the items you have the following problems:

    * Some copy protections cause antivirus/firewall/etc. applications to fail, making you vulnerable.
    * SecureROM has been PROVEN to physically damage/destroy DVD/CD ROMs.
    * DRM only allows you to reinstall or modify your PC a set number of times (3 for Spore the video game, I know) before you're no longer able to use it. In essence, you are now "renting" a video game for the full price of purchase, but this is hidden in the fine print.
    * DRM will also cause some games to simply quit working when the company decides not to continue running their authentication servers to save money.
    * DRM is often poorly written resulting in numerous "openings" that hackers can now use to get into your system.

    Now, let's look at a pirated version of the game:
    * Download online.
    * NONE of the above problems.
    * ALL copy protections can be broken.

    When are people going to learn that when you keep making it harder and harder for the honest people such as myself, you will eventually CREATE dishonest people. I for one refuse to *purchase* anything from EA from now on after the Spore debacle, an game that I had literally waited years for.
    Javin1
  • Yes.

    * I have never used Linux
    * I have ALWAYS (until the purchase of Spore) paid for EVERYTHING including movies (over 350 DVDs) Games (Every game that has come out, I probably own a copy legally, up until Spore) and CDs (Three large CD books full.)

    As I said in a previous post, it has very literally gotten to the point that the software that is installed without my knowledge or permission causes systems to crash, holes for hackers to get through, physical damage to the CD/DVD ROMS, or in many cases, the application/game/etc. simply can't be installed at all and I end up having to use a pirated version to get it to work.

    I spend literal THOUSANDS of dollars per year on software/music/games/movies. I also am a garage game developer, and would not appreciate someone stealing my applications. I have not, however, nor will I ever, gotten to the point of making any copy protections that make the application unusable. Ever.

    ALL copy protections can be broken, hacked, etc. All of them. Bar none. Period. Copy protection has one function and one function only: To keep honest people honest. THAT IS IT. The simplest CD check copy protection is 100% as effective as the most complex DRM, SecureROM, etc. In fact, I would argue that it's many times MORE effective, as it does not ENCOURAGE honest people to become pirates.

    I will say that since the Spore fiasco, that was the straw that broke the Camel's back for me. I have not *purchased* a single game since that has DRM or SecureROM. I get versions of the game very easily that have this garbage stripped out.

    As much as I want to support the developers for their hard work, I will NOT support a company that willingly damages their honest customer's systems.
    Javin1
  • Why would a music pirate who does not ever buy CD's care about this? It's widely known that every popular CD released today is and will be available as DRM-free audio files on torrent sites - often before it's available from "your local [market]" even.
    This is not an issue for anyone who never pays for music anyway, so Jon's trolling is pointless... Personally I've "pirated" music since I was kid in the 80's, copied friends and libraries CD's, vinyls and cassettes on C-cassette - all legal in Finland anyway (copying for personal use - it pretty much still is even with internet), but I've also bought a lot of music since those days... Today I maintain an impressive collection of vinyls, CD's, cassettes, audio files, etc. and I regularly buy more of them - and I've bought several records after originally copying them.
    I'm not writing this to argue about ethics of copying music for free - I've done it, probably will do it in future and have no regrets for doing it, but I also buy music. If I didn't buy I wouldn't care at all - but I will not buy a new Sony CD, nor any other products from them (I considered PS3 until they screwed their customers on the Other OS feature fiasco). I don't mind paying for a used (second hand sale) record from Sony, but I don't feel like giving money to the criminals inside Sony is ethically right and would not feel good doing it.

    Also, this is very much about principles - I feel quite safe putting any CD's on the drive of my Linux computer and knowing that no executable code will be loaded automatically without me knowing it.
    robsku