November 7, 2005 6:53 AM PST

EMI: We don't use rootkits

The EMI Group, one of the world's largest recording companies, has distanced itself from the controversy surrounding Sony BMG's digital rights management software by stating that it does not use rootkits on its own products.

Sony has been criticized for including DRM software with a music CD that runs even when the CD is not being played, and hides itself using rootkit technology. The software is difficult to remove and, if removed manually, could shut off access to the computer's CD player.

It has been rumored that other recording giants including EMI and the Universal Music Group use technology similar to that used by Sony; an EMI spokesman said on Friday that the DRM used on EMI's CDs can be completely removed if the user doesn't want to play the CD any more.

"The content-protection software that we're using can be easily uninstalled with a standard uninstaller that comes on the disc. EMI is not using any software that hides traces of the program. There is no 'rootkit' behavior, and there are no processes left running in the background," said an EMI spokesman in a statement.

EMI also said it was not working with First 4 Internet, the U.K. company that created the copy-restriction software for Sony, although it is trialing other content-protection software.

"EMI is not using First 4 Internet technology. We recently completed a trial of three content-protection technologies (Macrovision's CDS300, SunnComm's MediaMax and SonyDADC's key2audioXS), and First 4 Internet's technology was not one of those tested," said the spokesman.

Universal Music Group was unable to provide comment in time for this article.

Although Sony's use of rootkits has sparked an outcry, users would find it difficult to sue Sony in the U.K., even if their computer was damaged by its copy-restriction software, according to legal experts.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

22 comments

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DRM and CD Performanc
Recently purchased the Dolly Parton CD, Those were the days. The music is distored when played on my brand new Sony DVD Player. The CD plays ok on another player.

This is DRM at its worst. My music collection is almost 2000 cd's and the collection is not likely to grow with this consumer abuse experience
Posted by coisa (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Have you found...
..that Sony in general has taken a stubborn stance twords formats and DRM? Any owner of a mini-disk player can relate with what I'm saying. Converting an MP3 to ALTRAC format? Everytime a conversion is done, quality is diminished.
Posted by lewissalem (167 comments )
Link Flag
One way around Sony's DRM...
Play your CD on a Linux box. :)
Posted by Peet42 (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I read so much about this...
that I am going to vomit. On the Molly Wood article, 260+ people said that they were going to boycott Sony, including the PS3, laptops, and tv's. But before they go out and buy Xbox 360's, I would like to point out that Microsoft's shotty product was used as a vehicle for Sony's abusive actions, and Microsoft should be held accountable as well.

After digging through all the links in M.s Wood's article, I found out that the unsuspecting public was used by Sony, in a ploy to lobby Apple to de-proprietize the iPod., and on top of that, the rootkit has no effect on Macs. Duh! Anyone who has a Mac most likely uses an iPod for music on the go. This rootkit targeted the iPod, yet it effects every computer, whether you have an iPod or not. I use a Sony MD player, on a Windows box, but not anymore. I am done with both companies. Sony and Microsux can kiss my money good-bye.

I'm switching to Linux (Ubuntu looks really interesting, or maybe I'll go with Xandros or Mandriva)and I'll just go back to a portable CD player, not made by Sony.
Posted by dam7ri (67 comments )
Link Flag
Bypassing It Altogether...
As I understand it, you can eliminate the installkation of the DRM by simply holding down the shift key when you insert the CD, or turning off Autorun. I'm not sure -- since I use a Mac and as with most "viruses", I seem to be immune.

As far as a boycott of Sony/BMG is concerned, I'mm all for it. I'm calling for one in my own podcast, "Techpolitics", but I think it should go further than simply requiring new CDs to be mastered without the DRM -- it should require that all current CDs be remastered and re-shipped without the DRM installed. The best way to combat this kind of nonsense is to make it cost them money.
Posted by quicktiming (1 comment )
Link Flag
Stop buying CDs!
All I can say is stop buying CDs! Until these record companies stop treating me like a crimal, I won't buy any CD. I haven't bought one since 2000.
Posted by ericbrian (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
I quit buying CD's once the RIAA (which BTW is simply a front for the record companies) started their P2P legal proceedings by suing their customers.

Why would I want to buy ANYTHING from an industry that decides to sue its customers? Answer is that I don't.

And on the issue of piracy, most of the people who use P2P are going to be kids who like to boast a large "collection" but don't listen to 90% of the content they acquire. I always thought that "piracy" was the act of stealing and reselling for personal gain. Yet I have seen almost nothing in the media discussing this aspect. Why?

One other point, if I buy a CD or DVD and share the physical disc with my neighbor, is that "piracy"?
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
This could be one of thee things
First, EMI is being honest and their products don't use anything as invasive as a root kit. I hope this is true, but I'm not convinced.
Second, some EMI partners are indeed using such tricks, and upper management does not have a clue.
Or, EMI is using a root kit, but they call it something else: "Sub level evaluation process" or some other spin-doctoring dribble.

You might suspect that I am yet another jade customer who is tired of recording companies playing these games.
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Trust me? where have I heard that before!
This statement is from the people that implement cactus, non audio redbook standard cd, which has problems playing in most car audio cd and top of the line CD players like NAD etc, due to it's inherent defects. Now, they say trust me, we promise not to do what SONY BMG has done to break the law, throughout the world with their very illegal software, which included undocumented phone home feature as well and joke uninstaller, which reinstalls the DRM in visible format second time arround! Further, they have donated a set of tools, for use by by hackers/phishers/trojans to install devious undetectable malware. No EMI is waiting in the wings for INTEL/AMD/Microsoft to implement the Trusted Computing Module(something like the 1st gen apple intel mac)to strike, without warning! Trust me! No these record company conglomerates, have short change recording artists for decades stealing/diverting royalties and other payments due!, with their multifaceted/duplicitous books, so shy should they change! Besides all politicians say trust me, and we know how often, they keep their pronises! Ha ha, we gotcha again!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RIAA (or Recording Industry Against Artists)
A friend of mine has decided to stop buying Sony Music cd's altogether unless they fix this nonsense. Although I think that's a bit extreme. I will have to say Sony may have cross the line here. Since when has the buying consumer become the enemy? I thought they wanted to go after the supposedly illegal downloader. (although that is a matter of opinion.) But of course some matter of opinion becomes law. As in the case with Grokster closing today. They still around? O_O Completely forgot about them. I'll rely on allofmp3.com for now. More and more I use them to buy music first to see if I like it, (or use them to make backup's of legally owned cd's. sounds silly, but after Sony's tactic, might be a safer alternative to make my legal backup.) I dislike storing my expensive cd's in a car. Although some do enter, the pricier one's do not.
Posted by PatrynXX (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I guess we're all criminals
Sony seems to think all of it's customers are criminals. I think it's a crime to putsomething on my computer I can't remove without corrupting my computer. I think we can make an impact by not buying any Sony/BMG products through the Christmas season.
-Ray
Posted by ray82609 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
T-Shirts
Has anyone come out with t-shirts on this subject yet?
Like "Have you been hacked by Sony today?", "Has your CD hacked your PC today?" or a Circle/Slash thru DMR Rootkit.
I think I would wear one so people would ask me what was talking about. People need to be educated.
Posted by Ucidalin (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CAN SONY'S INFECTED CDs BE COPIED?
I have used Easy CD-DA Extractor to copy EMIs COPY CONTROLLED CDs.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.poikosoft.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.poikosoft.com/</a>

The copied discs play everywhere. I dont know if it kills the Sony worm, but I can't risk damaging my computer and leaving it open to hackers. Arrogant Sony won't cough-up the damage.

Also see comments on Amazon with new Neil Diamond CD on Sony:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/******/tg/detail/-/B0009NSCVC/qid=1131469729/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/102-7982133-2892159?v=glance&#38;s=music" target="_newWindow">http://www.amazon.com/exec/******/tg/detail/-/B0009NSCVC/qid=1131469729/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/102-7982133-2892159?v=glance&#38;s=music</a>

Neil Diamond has the clout to stop this.
Posted by bilacuda (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CAN SONY'S INFECTED CDs BE COPIED?
I have used Easy CD-DA Extractor to copy EMIs COPY CONTROLLED CDs.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.poikosoft.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.poikosoft.com/</a>

The copied discs play everywhere. I dont know if it kills the Sony worm, but I can't risk damaging my computer and leaving it open to hackers. Arrogant Sony won't cough-up the damage.

Also see comments on Amazon with new Neil Diamond CD on Sony:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/******/tg/detail/-/B0009NSCVC/qid=1131469729/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/102-7982133-2892159?v=glance&#38;s=music" target="_newWindow">http://www.amazon.com/exec/******/tg/detail/-/B0009NSCVC/qid=1131469729/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/102-7982133-2892159?v=glance&#38;s=music</a>

Neil Diamond has the clout to stop this.
Posted by bilacuda (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Appalling!
Read this: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.grc.com/sn/SN-012.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.grc.com/sn/SN-012.htm</a>. Or listen to the podcast linked in the same page. Sony is agreeably appalling! They should've been more responsible.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lack of DRM expiration = Unconstitutional
The combination of DRM, the DMCA, and the lack of a system to expire copyright is clearly unconstitutional. Copyrights are granted for a limited time. The DMCA makes circumvention illegal and the encryption systems in use do not expire when the copyright expires. Therefore the copyright effectively never expires and fair use cannot occur.
Posted by ArbitraryThinker (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EMI discs DO have hidden processes running
Ask them for a complete list of files that their CDS-300 (from Macrovision) copy protection installs on your PC. In any case, just install Musicmatch to rip these discs - it works...
Posted by monyl (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Macrovision probably lied to EMI
as they are struggling with share prices and redundancies at the moment. Likeley that the product manager for CD copy protection made up this bull (that apple were working on it) and EMI bought it, shame on them
Posted by monyl (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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