Culture

Sony's mess keeps getting bigger

Sony's PR woes just keep coming.

The media giant has taken heat recently for a bit of software included on its music CDs that was intended to prevent users from copying songs. But that software came with a little item called a rootkit, which installs itself on a user's hard drive and hides from view. Besides being sneaky, the rootkit can pose a security risk for users, since malicious software can use it to hide from antivirus detectors.

An uproar ensued, and while Sony tried to repair the damage by issuing a patch, not everyone was appeased. This week some antivirus companies said they were issuing tools to identify, and in some cases remove, the software.

In the latest developments, a class-action lawsuit has been filed by consumers in California who claim their computers have been harmed by the software. And the Electronic Frontier Foundation has taken a fine-tooth comb to the company's end user license agreement, pointing out some of the more outlandish claims.

Blog community response:

"Probably the most damning part of this spyware definition are the following sentences: 'Includes mechanisms to thwart removal by security or anti-spyware products. Cannot be uninstalled by Windows Add/Remove Programs and no uninstaller is provided with application.'"
--Things that...make you go hmm

"To me, this seems as convoluted as anything I've seen. Why would Sony have to make sure you can only uninstall from the PC you send the original request from? Why the hoops? Why not a big 'Uninstall your DRM HERE' link on their Sony BMG front page or at least a link to a FAQ? It seems like they want to make themselves look worse and worse."
--Real Tech News

"The folks at the EFF went through it and pulled out some of the more ridiculous terms. By far, the absolute best term in the EULA is that if you file for bankruptcy, you need to delete the music."
--Techdirt

"The music companies are like high-strung obnoxious rock-stars -- they need a buffer, like an agent or a retailer, to sit between them and the people who pay them. If we were to have to deal with the music oligarchs directly, the experience would be so toxic that 100 percent of the world would turn into Kazaa downloaders in 30 days."
--boingboing