Sony's Rootkit backfires

Sony makes up for their digital Pinto - permanently screwing with customers' operating systems - by ... wait for it ... giving away free songs. Sony faced an immediate onslaught of bad publicity as thousands of consumers worldwide awoke to the negative effects of copy-protection technologies, also known as technological protection measures (TPMs).
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

In an ironic legal twist, Sony's attempt at keeping consumers from electronically copying songs by inserting faulty copy-protection software CDs, Sony now must settle consumer complaints by giving them free songs. Law professor Michael Geist writes for BBC that 


The most notable feature of this portion of the settlement is that Sony will undertake to provide the free downloads from at least three music download services including rival Apple iTunes.

This aspect of the settlement is laced with irony since one of Sony's prime reasons for using the copy-protection software was to preclude its customers from copying the songs into MP3 format for playback on Apple iPods (the CDs could be easily copied into a format compatible with Sony digital audio players).

... Sony has agreed to stop using the technologies that caused the harm; to ensure that an uninstaller program is made readily available to consumers for any future TPM; to obtain an expert opinion that the use of any other copy-protection software does not create security risks; and to fix any software vulnerabilities that may arise from the use of the copy-protection software.

Is this good enough?


Opponents of the settlement will argue that a few music downloads is a small price to pay given the damage that Sony has created to personal computers around the world.

Moreover, consumers living outside of the United States are excluded from the settlement, leaving thousands without compensation and protection against ongoing TPM misuse.

The Sony CDs found their way onto computers in more than 100 countries, with thousands of consumers throughout the UK and Europe among the victims.


 Still, with the issue of DRM, or TPM (technological protection measures) as Geist has it, on the front burner in the US and Europe,


[The settlement's] legacy may provide the starting blueprint for a model TPM consumer protection statute that finds a place on the legislative agenda of governments around the globe.

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