What would the music industry be without a little controversy?
Just when you thought Sony BMG Music Entertainment had put its security problems behind it, the record label announced it had found, and fixed, a new risk associated with some of its CDs. The vulnerability could let malicious programmers gain control of computers that have run the software, which is typically installed automatically when a disc is put in a computer's CD drive.
A few days later, Sony BMG announced it was replacing that patch after Princeton University researchers found a security flaw in the update. Ed Felten, a Princeton computer science professor, wrote in his blog that the patch itself could open computers to attack by hackers.
Sony executives said they are working closely with security professionals to address the issues identified by Felten and will have a new patch available soon.
The issue affects a different set of CDs than the ones involved in the copy-protection gaffe that led Sony to recall 4.7 million CDs last month and that has triggered several lawsuits against the record label.
And just like Sony, if at first you don't succeed...RealNetworks Chief Executive Rob Glaser told a packed hotel ballroom that Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs' refusal to make the iPod compatible with music services other than Apple's iTunes was "pigheadedness." Glaser also said that Apple's unwillingness to cooperate with other online music vendors promotes piracy of copyright materials and will eventually draw the wrath of consumers.
"We think Apple Computer, and Steve personally, are making a mistake by making the software proprietary," Glaser said, noting that RealNetworks will continue catering to users of Macintosh computers. "There's no reason we should penalize Apple customers for Steve's pigheadeness."
Meanwhile, the online music wars took another turn Down Under when Sharman Networks cut off Australians' access to the Web site from which the file-swapping software Kazaa can be downloaded. The shutdown was undertaken to comply with orders from Australia's Federal Court. While people with an Australian IP address who have already downloaded Kazaa can continue to use it, Sharman is warning them not to do so.
However, Stephen Peach, chief executive of the Australian Record Industry Association, criticized the effort. "Sharman has thumbed its nose at the court. They were given a chance to do the right thing and they've ruined it," Peach said in a statement.