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Sony Suspends Use of Anti-Piracy Software

Bowing to nearly two weeks of relentless criticism from security experts, customers and even the Bush administration, Sony BMG Music Entertainment today said it had temporarily suspended production of music CDs that feature its controversial anti-piracy software.

"As a precautionary measure, Sony BMG is temporarily suspending the manufacture of CDs containing XCP technology," it said in a statement.

Security experts have shown that -- in its bid to hide its own files from the user and prevent them from being removed -- the digital rights management (DRM) program also can allow attackers and viruses to hide  from anti-virus programs. In the past 24 hours, at least four different versions of virus were mass e-mailed, viruses that use Sony's cloaking technology to hide on victims' machines in a bid to turn them into "zombies" that attackers can control for a variety of nefarious purposes. Since yesterday, at least two anti-virus companies declared their intention to release tools to help customers rid their PCs of Sony's program.

Research also showed that a patch Sony released to uncloak its program's files and remove the DRM software came with their own problems that could cause the user's computer to crash.

In a statement, Sony said it would re-examine all aspects of its content protection initiative "to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use." But that may be too little too late for many customers who have already vowed to now and forever boycott Sony products, and for the lawyers who are filing class action lawsuits against the company.

By Brian Krebs  |  November 11, 2005; 2:34 PM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker , Piracy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: DHS Official Weighs In on Sony
Next: Microsoft: Sony Anti-Piracy Software Is Spyware


Once again the labels have missed the boat - fair use sharing of CD's, DVD's, etc (that means you make a copy for a friend - not for napster to blast all over the world en-masse) has been proven to expand market share of the shared product because word of mouth advertising is the most effective advertising and will always be so.

Labels need to stop working "hand-to-mouth" and develop products (bands and films) for the long haul. Think Led Zepplin, the Beatles, etc. Vs the one-hit wonders we so commonly see in the market coming from the major labels.

Posted by: Virtual Radio | November 11, 2005 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I can't say it better than the Commodore:

Gentlemen :
You have undertaken to cheat me. I will not sue you, for law takes too long. I will ruin you.

Sincerely yours,

Cornelius Van Derbilt.

Posted by: GTexas | November 11, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Sony is discontinuing, at least temporarily, this technology as a precautionary measure. Clearly Sony must be concerned with our welfare. However, there is no mention in the news release of recalling these CDs and providing customers with replacement CDs. Until these CDs are vaporized, they are a threat.

Posted by: Steve | November 11, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments above. The only effective way is to start boycotting Sony products.

Posted by: Sudip | November 11, 2005 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments above. The only effective way is to start boycotting Sony products.

Posted by: Sudip | November 11, 2005 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The end of the record label is near. As more and more people shift to digital downloads, CD type technology will die along with all previous physical media forms (e.g. vinyl, cassette, 8track). When that happens, artist will no longer need the labels - they'll just hire publicist and contract specialist to market their digital commodity to a multitude of distributors, without the labels skimming off the vast majority of the revenue.

Posted by: Tom | November 12, 2005 1:41 AM | Report abuse

As a result of the position Sony has taken towards the customer, I will never buy anything from the company in the future. Treating all of us like we are thieves is uncalled for and they don't deserve to do business in the U.S.

Posted by: Cozmic | November 12, 2005 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Sony has discontinued this particular version of its DRM, but only reluctantly, and in the face of immense public pressure and a pretty strong hint to back off by a senior US government official.

However, they are *still* distributing DRM that they get from a different subcontractor, Suncomm. Suncomm's DRM installs two kernel extensions on Macintosh computers:

Frankly, it is appalling that Sony is still distributing any CDs from any subcontractors that modify the kernel of user's operating system.

Read my lips, Sony: Stay out of the kernels of people's OSes!

Sony hasn't withdrawn the CDs infected with Suncomm's DRM because few people know about these and there has been no public pressure.

This demonstrates clearly that there has been no change of heart and that Sony is the sort of company that will do anything it thinks it can get away with.

Posted by: Michael | November 12, 2005 4:12 AM | Report abuse

RECALL - Time to demand that Sony recall and replace the CDs.

Posted by: Steve | November 12, 2005 9:10 AM | Report abuse

This is one of those perfect examples of where the recording industries ideas are completely backwards. Sony will lose money over this DRM issue than they could possibly lose from pirating. I don't intend to purchase any more Sony CDs either. I bet they'll try to spin the drop in their sales due to boycott as an increase in pirating of their music. If the major recording companies wish to survive they need to find another strategy. DRM is only going to push their paying customers away. There are always ways to circumvent DRM protection.

Posted by: Xoring | November 12, 2005 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Michael is absolutely correct.
I have to support 300+ networked Windows PCS and it is bad enough trying to keep them functioning and secured anymore, with so many security vulnerabilities in XP/2000, the Java JRE, Acrobat Reader, Flash, and such, without having to worry about every record label cooking up their own DRM OS hacks. Microsoft is the only company I want making modifications to Windows for DRM functionality. Oddly enough, this is one of those rare cases where apparently there is nothing Microsoft can do to keep control of their own OS, because they actually aren't powerful enough to tell a company like Sony/BMG what to do.

I would say, though, Sony is a huge company and I'm not going to throw away my awesome Wega TV or Sony DVD player over this, but I'll definitely never buy music from the Sony/BMG label.

Posted by: Tom | November 12, 2005 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I can only second Tom and Michael. We seem to be in a situation where MS Windows has become like the electric utility and music media is like toasters plugging into the wall. We need to see an independent Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA) logo on these toasters so we know they are going to play nice with the electricity. Like DHS says, it's now a matter of life and death (just like with real toasters).

Posted by: JCanada | November 12, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Time to wake up.

Yeah, the arrogant management at Sony is getting some of what it deserves. The record and movie industry should take heed and decrease their greed...

I only wish Sony had delayed just a little longer before coming forward to say "they" would stop using the technology on their CDs...just a little longer and they would have been facing a boycott of Sony products - No Doubt.

This weak Sony retraction is only a partially acceptable response - they do owe additional recompense to the customers that trusted them and bought Sony's spyware-infected CDs!

And, am I the only one getting a kick out of watching the champions of reduced citizens rights backtracking on this issue? The Bush Administration? Come on - these are the same guys that want to install wiretap hooks in every electronic device sold so that they can eavesdrop on American citizens; and, they are the same folks whose closed door energy policy shenanigans resulted in the rape of the American tax payer at the gas pump. (How do gas prices drop 50 cents a gallon in a few weeks without destroying the oil companies, if they were truly as innocent as they proclaim?)

This is bigger than disagreement over how to best handle copyright protection - it's about what type of democracy the US wants to become.

Look at the mounting encroachments on our rights from all sides...the Patriot Act, the dismantling of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the "dumbing down" of America, and the attempt at establishing a theocracy in the US - effectively abolishing seperation of Church and State (now that's some "Intelligent Design" for you).

Where is our commitment to democracy America; our passion to protect our freedoms?

Time to wake up. Time to move. Time to use the Power of free speech, activism and The Vote.

(BTW - Hey, Dub, they didn't kill ALL of the Panthers in Midland, TX that day...)


Posted by: DJ Akinsiju | November 12, 2005 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I work at a computer store in a little town, full of people that the head of Sony would love to think don't know what a rootkit is.

They do, I've told them when they have it, thanks to great authors at sysinternals for rootkit revealer.

People understand, even with their limited knowledge of everything, that a file is hidden.

Pssst, sony.. they don't like it when other companies or viri makers do it, and they don't appreciate it when you do either.

Posted by: NPR comments | November 12, 2005 9:43 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing wrong with protecting property, physical or intellectual. However, Sony has gone too far with this sneaky behind the scenes tricky to load software onto users' computers. I will boycott all Sony products for 2 years because of this horrible deception. There is no way I am going to give my hard earned money to a corporation that would do this to millions of customers. Also I will never agree to an ELU (end user license) again to listen to a CD. If I ever find one on music CDs it's going straight back to the store it came. The harm has been done.

Posted by: Alan | November 12, 2005 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Jeez. I used to love having a famous company sharing my nickname. Huh, now I have a radically different view. I'm even changing my nickname! And also, since one of my friends had that happen to him, I'm boycotting Sony!


Posted by: Sony | November 12, 2005 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Sony says the suspension is temporary. But I've imposed a permanent ban on Sony. As of today, I'll NEVER BUY anything from Sony. Yes, not just CDs, but everything that Sony makes. It's time we punish Sony for trying to be too smart and over protective.

Posted by: Seb | November 13, 2005 4:37 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to 'Sony - No Balony' ??
Even where its not properly indicated on the (tiny teeny) CD labeling, one should always ask the retailer if the CD they wish to buy has been compromised by DRM crapware. And if so - refuse to purchase it. And if you DO unknowingly buy anything that later compromises your enjoyment of the content, then hold the retailer (i.e. Tower) accountable too!!!

Posted by: anonyman | November 13, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

To Sony Corp--

You blew it big time. My husband and I no longer trust your company and will not
buy ANY Sony product that could interact
with our computer. It's simply not worth a headache of a junked operating system.

How can we ever trust any of your products again?

Outraged, I am SP in Kansas

Posted by: sp in Kansas | November 20, 2005 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Gee sorry we brok the laws of your various what. We are a Multinational Corporate State and buy enough congress critters (for US: in what every old style geo-state we care to do do business in. You can't touch us. ..... I will NEVER buy sony again. I will actively push everyone around me to never by sony again for the rest of my life. I actively push to unseat corporate-states from their created role governance and granted 'rights' ( Thank you sony, for stepping up to be the poster child for the war on corporations-with-power. To sony employess - get, while the goings good.

Posted by: So what, we can do what we want | November 20, 2005 9:39 PM | Report abuse

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