November 18, 2005 10:18 AM PST

Week in review: Sony's sour note

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Sony BMG Music Entertainment finds itself singing the blues this week, after copy protection on many of its CDs struck a sour note on fans' PCs.

The record label will recall millions of CDs that, if played in a consumer's PC disc drive, will expose the computer to serious security risks. Anyone who has purchased one of the CDs, which include southern rockers Van Zant, Neil Diamond's latest album and more than 18 others, can exchange the purchase. The company added that it would release details of its CD exchange program "shortly."

Sony's software, installed when playing one of the record label's recent copy-protected CDs in a computer, hides itself on hard drives using a powerful programming tool called a "rootkit." But the tool leaves the door open behind it, allowing other software--including viruses--to be deeply hidden behind the rootkit cloak.

Sony reported that over the past eight months, it shipped more than 4.7 million CDs with the so-called XCP copy protection. More than 2.1 million of those discs have been sold.

News of Sony's copy protection problems incensed some CNET News.com readers. "These companies will do anything to stop people from copying their CDs...including making people so afraid to even use a CD, for fear of it destroying their PCs, that no one will buy a copy-protected disc again," wrote Philip Brooks in News.com's TalkBack forum. "Who do they think they are benefiting? It would seem to me that this fiasco will only encourage music pirates. Bravo, Sony!"

Sony BMG took another blow when a security company said it has found malicious attacks based on software designed to defuse the record label's "rootkit" problems. Websense's security labs reported that it has discovered several Web sites designed to exploit security flaws in a rootkit uninstaller program issued by Sony BMG.

Websense has uncovered only a couple of Web sites set up to attack flaws in the initial uninstall program, and the damage they cause appears to be minimal so far. One of them, hosted in the United States, simply restarts infected computers.

Microsoft plans to update its security tools to detect and remove part of those copy protection tools after determining that the "rootkit" can pose a security risk to Windows PCs.

To protect Windows users, Microsoft plans to update Windows AntiSpyware and the Malicious Software Removal Tool, as well as the online scanner on Windows Live Safety Center, to detect and remove the Sony BMG software.

Fight over the Net
The battle for control of the Net ended peacefully before the fight even began, but some are still unhappy with the outcome.

The Bush administration and its critics at a United Nations summit in Tunis, Tunisia, inked a broad agreement on global Internet management that endorses the creation of an "Internet Governance Forum." The forum is meant to be a central point for global discussions of everything from computer security and online crime to spam and other "misuses of the Internet." It will meet for the first time in 2006 under the auspices of the United Nations.

What the agreement does not do is require the United States to relinquish its unique influence over the Internet's operations. The statement takes "no action regarding existing institutions," said David Gross, the ambassador leading the U.S. delegation. "It created no new international organizations."

But because it's not clear which organization will be in charge of organizing the forum, a new round of back-room negotiating and political jockeying is already under way. The top two contenders: the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. body, and the Internet Society, which counts online pioneers from the United States and Europe on its board of directors and is located in Reston, Va.

The ITU doesn't have any day-to-day responsibility over the Internet, and Western businesses and the U.S. government would like to keep it that way. In addition, a power struggle over the creation of the Internet Governance Forum is developing with the Internet Society, meaning that the ITU's management of the forum is not guaranteed. Whichever group is in charge of organizing can set the tone for the forum, craft the rules and influence the final result.

CNET News.com spoke about these topics with Robert Shaw, the ITU's Internet strategy and policy adviser.

The summit itself got off to a rocky start in the eyes of some human rights activists. Just days before the United Nations-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society began, watchdog groups reported clashes with authorities and violence toward at least one journalist in the North African city of about 10 million people.

The groups called the country unfit to host the international summit because of its

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Sony BMG Music Entertainment, record label, copy protection, rootkit, Week in review

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BOYCOTT ALL THINGS SONY!
Sony only respects cash. They rip off open source programming to make a rootkit exe that rips off paying customers and damages their PCs. I make a living on my PC so this is unforgivable. Sony does not deserve consumer support or cash. They do deserver lawsuits and a strong worldwide boycott. Buy nothing Sony.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
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I agree and
get ready for Windows DRM. That's what I call Window Vista. It has the DMCA built right into it. If you thought the rootkit was bad, you haven't seen anything yet.
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Link Flag
Too little Too late!
Sony, has lost the plot, totally, by treating all customers as thieves! But, then never again, shall I purchase anything related to SONY! But alas, think of all sony bmg's label recording artists, when the get the bill for all the replacement cd's deducted from their paltry royalty payments(dressed up as additional promo costs!) Oh well, in this case nobody wins for users, have additional costs to clean and disinfect corrupted Windoze computers! Most Businesses will have banned all commercial SONY cd's/dvd's from use in house WINDOWS 2000 computer networks for security reasons! Recording artists will be deliberately underpaid! And Sony will have sunk it's reputation into the SEWER, for showing the world that it will always ignore all corporate laws and business governance regulations, for total profits ahead of it's customer rights! Time to BOYCOTT all that is SONY!!!!!!! I hope all the class action law suits monetary restitution, collectively sink SONY BMG permanently!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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this gives new meaning to the word ...
STUPIDITY :)
Posted by Lolo Gecko (131 comments )
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What a Mess!!!
Sony's little 'rootkit' secret, hidding from the fans buying their CDs, now turns out to be a big mess for Sony in the news.

Sony just sent a clear message to all the fans:
Downloading pirated musics from the internet is actually safer to your computer than buying CDs from Sony.
Posted by 11-Dimensions (1 comment )
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Sony XCP More Sinister & Not Just Anti-Piracy
First, Full Support To BOYCOTT BOYCOTT BOYCOTT ALL ALL ALL Things Sony.
Look deeper and put the jigsaw together and you'll realise that Sony is definitely an EVIL AND SINISTER EMPIRE. Rotten to the core.
They installed the XCP not just for anti-piracy purposes BUT to bring down the great American Company of Steve Jobs, the magnificent Apple iPod machine.
First, Sony tried to double their download $ for each song to kill iPod. As Steve Jobs said something like, doubling the download price from $0.99 to about $2 will encourage piracy and thus Sony hoped to gradually kill iPod's popularity because less and less people will then be using iPods as the downloads get more expensive. iPod's leadership and top popularity now was ONCE Sony Walkman's.
Since Steve Jobs resisted Sony, Sony tried (not sure if effected) to cut iPod off from its songs.
Another evil step to trample on iPod to get itself (Sony) up to the top.
And now this 2nd step by Sony to be a virus distributor itself by hiding it's XCP deep inside people's computers with 2 main objectives (maybe more).
As I read somewhere, those Sony XCPed songs cannot play on iPods but play fine on Walkmans.
Sony is greedy, evil, arrogant, and a pathetic liar (wait till you email them for customer service when they reply that they'll get back to you in a few days and the days turn into months with deafening silence and you'll know that I don't exaggerate!! Further nice, polite emails met with the same fate. That is the real Sony).
NOW, I DON'T BUY ANYTHING SONY.
Sony of many, many, many years ago was different.
NOW, their products are riddled with so many quality problems like their software.
Design problems, malfunction problems, unable to write when intended to do so (DVD writers) etc.
I should know because I have used Sony digital cameras (2MP and 5MP), camcorders, TVs, DVD drive,CD Drive, 3.5 floppy drive, and others.
BUT NOW, I TOTALLY BOYCOTT ALL THINGS SONY.
Posted by powerdot (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
test
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Posted by sabot96 (24 comments )
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agreed
This is what we get for being honest and paying for merchandise?! Sony is the devil. Hurt them where they hurt the general consumer...in the pocketbook. Greedy Sony keeps trying to get iTunes to raise their prices above the .99 cent mark too? Oh jesus...boycott!!
Posted by (8 comments )
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Pt 2: SONY XCP More Sinister or Just Anti-Piracy?
Recent news that <<< the industry has seen an estimated $2 billion overall decline in CD sales...>>>
How is that calculated? Real figures or imaginary numbers?
More likely, is it just an excuse to plead "poverty" to pay the artistes LESS and keep more for their greedy selves???
Paying big bucks to keep people like the HEAD???!! of Sony's GLOBAL???!! business to say things like "Most people, I think don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"
SO AFTER WE, THE CUSTOMERS HAVE PAID FOR SONY'S VERY EXPENSIVE SONGS AND VERY EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS TO KEEP HIM UP THERE, IS HE IMPLYING THAT WE KEEP PAYING GOOD MONEY TO SONY FOR HIM TO LOOK DOWN UPON US AS PEOPLE WHO ARE WAY BENEATH HIM BECAUSE WE ARE IGNORANT, ILLITERATE, STUPID & COMPLACENT??
So he can exploit that, trample on our rights and privacy, and put their dirty greasy hands into our pockets again and again by spying on our likes and dislikes?
LIKE, SONY, THROUGH HIM, ARE THEY IMPLYING THAT CUSTOMERS DESERVE NO RESPECT BECAUSE CUSTOMERS DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ROOTKIT, PRIVACY, INSULTS, AND WILL STILL KEEP PAYING FOR SONY'S PRODUCTS T GET INSULTED AGAIN & AGAIN?? AND THAT WE'LL FORGET AFTER A FEW WEEKS AND THEN START BUYING SONY AGAIN???
And when Sony's XCP disables our CD/DVD drive,
we might be misled, cheated, conned, and scammed into thinking that our CD/DVD drive is burnt out or that our computer is in poor shape and so is Sony hoping that we will then buy a brand new sony computer or at the very least spend good money on a new sony problem-plagued CD/DVD drive and throw out the perfectly good CD/DVD drive that was in our computer???
IS THIS THE START OF A NEW GREEDY BUSINESS TREND OF GETTING MORE MONEY FROM US BY, IN THIS CASE, USING XCP TO INTENTIONALLY KNOCK OUT OR CAUSE WILLFUL DAMAGE TO OUR PRODUCT AND THUS MISLEAD US INTO THINKING THAT WE NEED TO GET A NEW ONE OR PAY FOR OUR PRODUCT TO BE SERVICED??
OR HAS THIS GREEDY NEW BUSINESS TREND ALREADY STARTED?
The timing of introducing the XCP now, starting of the Christmas shopping season,
when people are more inclined to spend or replace or gift computers etc, is that good,
well-planned timing or just a coincidence that XCP can disable our drives?
Did Sony dream that their XCP would be good for their business without thinking that the "illiterate, dumb masses" of customers are way much more intelligent, more sharp and much more hi-tech than Sony and their HEAD???!! of GLOBAL???!!! Business???
Posted by powerdot (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sony is a very greedy company.
I hope that people realize - Sony doesn't market to consumers. There's more money in developing relationships with other businesses and securing their loyalty. That's how these kinds of issues crop up.

In the case of DRM, Sony approaches businesses and says "Look, we can do this". Without any tech-savvy, the soon-to-be partners assume that Sony's methods are legitimate and genuine - and as we know, it's quite the opposite.
It's not very long before Sony is given the wake up call that they aren't exactly good at what they do and people have bypassed their security with no effort at all.

I would strongly reccomend that people do what I've been trying to explain for ages: Boycott Sony. They don't deserve any of our money and their products outside of music also suffer from a range of questionable practice issues.

Ever had to deal with their support?
Posted by (15 comments )
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