Texas sues Sony BMG over alleged spyware

A civil lawsuit is filed against Sony for alleged spyware in its media player.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Sony BMG Music Entertainment for allegedly including spyware on its media player designed to thwart music copying.

According to the lawsuit filed in Travis County, several of the company's music compact discs require customers to download Sony's media players if they want to listen to the CDs on a computer.

Software included with that media player "remains hidden and active" after installation and makes users vulnerable to security risks and possible identity theft, the Attorney General's office said in a statement.

Sony's rootkit fiasco

Sony said on its Web site that it had recalled all CDs that were installed with the XCP technology designed to prevent illegal music copying. But Abbott said that Texas investigators were able to purchase several of the CDs at Austin retailers on Sunday.

Texas is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 per violation of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, which was enacted earlier this year.

"Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Abbott said in a statement.

Sony was not immediately available to comment on the lawsuit.

The CDs, from 52 popular artists, including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Celine Dion, prompted a user agreement to appear on consumers' computer screens.

Users are required to accept the agreement in order to play the CDs on their computer, and Sony's media player is automatically downloaded to their computers with the hidden files.

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