SonyBMG's criminal intent

SonyBMG's criminal intent

Summary: Not content with infesting millions of PCs with malware, Sony and its cronies want to criminalise copying and spy on your calls.

TOPICS: IT Employment

Twenty years ago, the only criminals in cyberspace were characters in science fiction. Now, the threat is so real the European Union is considering laws to regulate the very fabric of the network — and as in the best thrillers, the true masterminds of mischief are coming to light.

This is not a free process. The ISPs complain that the Data Retention Act will make the Internet more expensive. Civil rights activists warn of the invasion of our privacy. And nobody can say for sure that keeping Internet and phone records for a year will really catch more terrorists, instead of making it easier to persecute those who don't consider they have anything to hide. There are arguments on both sides yet it is clear, whatever one's opinions of them, that the politicians are terrified of getting it wrong. We can still cut them some slack.

That's not true for the entertainment industry, which in a move of breathtaking opportunism is seeking to hitch its wagon to the fight against terrorism. It wants to use the Data Retention directive as a weapon in its fight against copyright violators. It counts copying a Scissor Sisters track as equal to the 'terrorism and serious crime' that justifies the DRD. As this is clearly not the case, the entertainment industry is also lobbying MEPs to get them to extend the Directive to cover all crimes while simultaneously persuading another group of MEPs to make intellectual-property violation a criminal offence through the equally troubling IPRED2 directive.

At a stroke, this will criminalise millions of people while stripping their privacy from them — all for acts of dubious harmfulness. Who could possibly contemplate such excessive measures? One look at the Creative and Media Business Alliance's list of members gives the game away: SonyBMG.

This is the company that saw fit to use a rootkit to hide its digital rights management. The company that still refuses to admit the extent of its mistake. The company being sued by consumer groups, state governments and individuals for infesting PCs with malware.

These people have demonstrated beyond doubt that they despise their customers. They have no concept of justice, of proportion, of individual rights. To let them help make law would be to put judges' robes on gangsters.

Tell your MEP that you'd rather Sony didn't set the agenda for Internet crime. That you don't want to give it the power to monitor your phones and break down your doors. That it has disqualified itself utterly from the argument.

There is no place on the Net or on our computers for those who think secrecy, malware and the criminal law are appropriate tools for business: such ideas, like SonyBMG itself, should be put back in the pages of science fiction where they belong.

Topic: IT Employment

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  • I just wish the US would put as much effort into stopping its spammers as it does into its efforts at establishing IPR imperialism. Too bady Sony is actually headed up by a Brit these days, mind you, Howard Stringer is Welsh - so what do you expect?
  • Perhaps they can start by suing companies that make CD ripping software, cd writers, and blank CD's, like, err, Sony?
  • Our freedoms are being threatened by an alliance between Germans and Japanese! Hmmm... Sounds familiar for some reason :-)
  • Well said. I have been following SonyBMG's response closely to this fiasco. Your story underlies what I think the heart of their new problem is - they are completely estranging themselves from their legitimate customers. You would think they would get a clue. They think we care about the perceived injustice of people illegally listening to their music? I don't. But I do care when the music I purchase is incompatible with my media player software, won't play on my iPod, installs secretive files on my computer and forces me to keep track of miscellaneous digital rights nonsense. For me, this is WHY I buy cds in the first place, so I can enjoy my music when and how I like. Kudos SonyBMG, keep up the good work, I am sure loyal customers will be at your doors in throngs with the recent marketing genius that flows down upon us from headquarters.