Thursday, November 10, 2005


It was inevitable, following the discovery that Sony-BMG CDs used virus-like root kits to conceal it's heavy-handed anti-piracy programs from the PC owners upon whose machines it was installed unrequested, that the law would become involved. And so now Sony-BMG are facing three lawsuits.

In California, Alan Himmelfarb is petitioning for a ban and damages for any Californians who've installed the stuff by mistake. That, potentially, could mean Sony-BMG having to pay for the removal of the malignant software - which, because it's hard to take it off without ruining the CD driver software on some PCs, could be enormously expensive.

Meanwhile, in New York Scott Kamber is getting together a class-action lawsuit. And the Electronic Freedom Foundation is also talking of action.

In Italy, the local digital rights lobby Electronic Frontiers Italy, is calling for a government investigation.

It's all starting to shape up to be expensive for Sony, if only in the costs of having to co-operate with all these investigations across the globe, and in the effects of the bad publicity. And has this stupid, stupid software actually saved them any single sale? It seems unlikely, and even if it has, compared to the millions the botched job of copy protetction is going to burn through for them, it certainly won't have been a profitable decision.

This is, remember, more than just a copyright story. Sony-BMG is a public company, which means its got investors who could include your pension fund, for example. And yet its got a board which is sanctioning this sort of costly mistake time and time again. These aren't just culturally blindsided decisons being made - they're astonishingly poor business decisions as well. A company which can wade itself into this sort of a mess probably isn't the place to be putting your life savings to work.

The company hasn't even had the good grace to make public a list of the albums which break PCs, but there is a partial list being pulled together by other people:

Trey Anastasio - Shine
Celine Dion - On ne Change Pas
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs
Our Lady Peace - Healthy in Paranoid Times
Chris Botti - To Love Again
Van Zant - Get Right with the Man
Switchfoot - Nothing is Sound
The Coral - The Invisible Invasion
Acceptance - Phantoms
Susie Suh - Susie Suh
Amerie - Touch
Life of Agony - Broken Valley
Horace Silver Quintet - Silver's Blue
Gerry Mulligan - Jeru
Dexter Gordon - Manhattan Symphonie
The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity
The Dead 60s - The Dead 60s
Dion - The Essential Dion
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
Ricky Martin - Life


jona said...

There's some ominous titles in there:

Van Zant - Get Right with the Man
The Coral - The Invisible Invasion
The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten (well, they didn't announce it'd screw your computer)

This is an ex-apple exec's blog piece about this.

Eyetie said...

The best part of that blog is worth highlighting: "They can all take their DRM, and their broadcast flags, and their rootkits, and their Compact Discs that aren’t really compact discs and shove them up their bottom-lines."

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