Sony jump on the spyware bandwagon

Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far:

The entire experience was frustrating and irritating. Not only had Sony put software on my system that uses techniques commonly used by malware to mask its presence, the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall. Worse, most users that stumble across the cloaked files with a RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files.While I believe in the media industry’s right to use copy protection mechanisms to prevent illegal copying, I don’t think that we’ve found the right balance of fair use and copy protection, yet. This is a clear case of Sony taking DRM too far.

I’ll freely admit that a lot of this article is way too techie for me to grok it all, but the conclusion is clear; Sony have decided that they will install hidden spyware dressed up as DRM on your machine, without your knowledge, just for the priviledge of being able to play a CD you have already paid them for on your PC. (Mac users are as smug as ever about not having the problem…shame we can’t all afford to buy a whole new machine when we need to upgrade, wot?)

Okay, so for those who find acronyms baffling, DRM stands for ‘Digital Rights Management’, and is the music industry’s answer to what they see as the terrible spectre of freely downloadable content from the ‘net. Ever since Napster, they’ve had their knickers in an awful twist over the potential lost revenue, and we’ve heard all the arguments that were thrown at home taping and videoing back in the 80s used again and again.

The alarming fact here is that big business, always the first to resort to a nice bit of juicy litigation, isn’t afraid to break the law if they think they won’t get caught. It’s more than a little cheeky to be throwing the book at kids downloading albums while secretly installing malicious software on the computers of paying consumers. The recording industry is rather gutted by losing out on big profits on a deal that *they* cut with companies like iTunes, and are now trying new ways to squeeze the punter. I can understand wanting to protect your company’s revenues. But to defraud your customers to do so? Bad form, I’d say. I get the feeling we’ll hear more about this story fairly soon, if Sony don’t manage to sweep it under some kind of legal carpet. Keep ’em peeled, and watch out for copy-protected CDs that may give you more than you bargained for.

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