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Music Industry Backlash Against Sony Rootkit 400 400

Foobar of Borg writes "The Associated Press describes how backlash from Sony's Rootkit CDs is causing problems for the music industry. The problem is two-fold: (1) the inherent technological problem of trying to prevent anyone from copying anything and (2) letting lawyers make technical decisions when (from the article) 'Lawyers don't have any better understanding of technology than a cow does algebra.'" More from the article: "'I think they've set back audio CD protection by years,' said Richard M. Smith, an Internet privacy and security consultant. 'Nobody will want to pull a Sony now.' Phil Leigh, analyst for Inside Digital Media, said the debacle shows just how reluctant the labels are to change their business model to reflect the distribution powers -- good and bad -- of the Internet. He believes that rather than adopting technological methods to try to stop unauthorized copying of music, record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy."
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Music Industry Backlash Against Sony Rootkit

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  • hmm anti-lawyer FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:29AM (#14074855) Homepage Journal
    'Lawyers don't have any better understanding of technology than a cow does algebra.'

    Is that right? []
  • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:32AM (#14074866)
    Exactly. If I hear "rootkit" one more time... heheh.

    What I want to know is how two small time startups like First4Internet and SunnComm steal all the publicity from Macrovision.

    Where is the analysis of CDS-300? Macrovision is the 800lb gorilla in this business, but nobody cares about them.

  • You mean... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:41AM (#14074890)
    '...record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy.'

    Which brings up the method, again, of how the 'Dead dealt with bootlegging, by inviting bootleggers to give it thier best shot - This meant more publicity for the band, which led to more sales.

    The record companies just won't let go. They want the model that puts them in control. Pricing control where they get to say which track sells for what amount, giving them leverage over the artist - bundleing, where trash tracks have to be purchased, whether the consumer wants them or not - consumer habit tracking, where they get first dibs on mining all that goes on and on. The record companies just need to die, it's that simple.

    In Sony's case, I guess this one can be laid at the feet of the lawyers, but hey, they've got their own business model to protect, and we all know where that one leads.

    Why not just let the artists be in control for a while. Let the $$$ grabbers sell peanuts and t-shirts while the consumer enjoys decent music for a change.
  • by microbrewer (774971) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:43AM (#14074895) Homepage
    Mashboxx and the New Grokster 3G that will be launched later this year has the serious backing of Sony\BMG and the Sony Music CEO Andrew Lack was intrememtal putting the project together with the Mashboxx chairman Wayne Russo who was the former president of Grokster.

    The whole Sony rootkit contreversey will seriously damage the reputation of this p2p service that already faces a uphill battle to convert the already sceptical filesharing community.

    Many in the tech community have vowed to boycott Sony products and many just dont trust them anymore so Mashboxx will be put into the same boat.
  • by Stitch_Surfs (895163) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @09:00AM (#14074943) Homepage
    I'm surprised that we've not heard more from the artists themselves on this front. You'd think that those whose CDs were clandestinely infiltrated by this technology would have opinions. After all these people make thie money directly from the sales of those CD's too and you can pretty well bet that not a one of them was told about or consulted in advance of the decision to rootkit these cds.

    I'm curious to know if on top of Sony's problems a rash of lawsuits will be filed by attorneys representing artists that either had their work defiled by the rootkits or those that want out of their contracts because Sony's miserable judgment will result in substantially reduced sales for any artist on a Sony label.

    Anyone know about this or have an opinion?


    "There is no "I" in B-O-R-G"
  • Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @09:12AM (#14074977) Journal
    They say that right there in the article:
    Although the episode could not have gone worse, it's unlikely to lead other music companies to abandon copy-protection technologies.

    One rival, EMI Group PLC, is moving ahead with digital rights management from Macrovision Corp. that lets users burn three copies of a disc and "rip" it onto a computer seven times.
    But I don't really see why DRM like that is a huge problem. Unless they put their DRM Software on the 3 discs you have their permission to burn... this might encourage more people to make a copy, uninstall the software, then archive the original.

    Actually, this Macrovision protection seems kinda pointless. Who's going to rip a disc 7 times? Like I said before: Rip it once and discard the original.
  • by lwells-au (548448) <[lwells] [at] []> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @09:16AM (#14074989)

    "... rather than adopting technological methods to try to stop unauthorized copying of music, record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy."

    I do find it rather ironic that I was, not five minutes ago, looking for an Oasis song (forgive me, its stuck in my head) on iTunes music store to purchase legally only to find out they are published by Sony-BMG who, in their infinite wisdom, have declined to be involved with the Australian iTunes music store [].

    Given their current predilication for sticking DRM crap on CDs and the fact I only want one or two specific tracks, no sale for you. Good going Sony. What's a possible customer meant to do if you insist on treating us like (potential) criminals?

  • by zakezuke (229119) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @09:45AM (#14075067)
    To me, free music downloads from Usenet mean I get to preview my music before I buy it, no different to test driving a car before I buy it. When all said and done, if I download some music and don't like it, it's not even worth the waste of disk space keeping it and if it's a good piece of music then I want it in the clearest format possible to play on my nice shiny hi-fi.

    To me... free music should be a vehicel to sell licensed CD cases, covers, bumperstickers and the like. I "could" pirate using an inkjet based printer but paper and ink would run me over $3.00. Publishers get their money, fans get that warm golden feeling from supporting the artists, inkjet mfgs are no longer exploiting this piracy cash cow, everyone is happy.

  • by shanen (462549) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @09:45AM (#14075070) Homepage Journal
    I think you're wrong, but that reminds me to note... I'm actually an owner of several blocks of Sony shares. I bought them at a time when I regarded Sony as a technology-based company that also knew how to market. I also thought of them as a very ethical company.

    Making money in hardware is hard work, but honest. The content business (pronounced "publishing") is an aspect of software with much higher profit potential, especially if you are willing to prostitute yourself and lie as needed (pronounced "marketing") to drive up the value of your "product". Sony has become involved in an internal civil war between the poor-but-honest hardware people and the greedy **AA scumbags. We now know who lost:

    The customers and the creative artists. (And the hardware folks, but they're the relatively minor casualties.)

    Bad time to sell my shares, but maybe I should do it anyway. It would help to make sure that Sony gets the message.

  • by asac (643533) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @09:51AM (#14075094)

    He believes that rather than adopting technological methods to try to stop unauthorized copying of music, record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy."

    Yes, as always, innovation (of products, price, distribution and markets) to match actual demands is almost certainly superior to oppression and enforcing old entrenched business models by law ... but why is noone listening? Do they all need to live through oppression on their own to get a clue?

  • by Vladimir (98464) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @10:46AM (#14075297)
    I didn't follow all the whole event, but how antivirus companies reacted to this? Was there one that prevented infection? I guess the rest should find some excuses for betraying their customers?
  • by rsewill (781647) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @11:54AM (#14075625)
    My view will be controversial...but DRM is not good or evil. DRM is a tool.

    The SONY rooktkit is not DRM. The SONY rootkit is an abomination.

    DRM is like a knife. In a surgeon's hands, a knife can save lives. In a butcher's hands, the same knife can cut throats.
    It's the knife wielder that we have to watch. The DRM wielders haven't learned how to properly use or label DRM yet.

    What we should do is ensure DRM is properly labeled.
    I might be willing to pay x amount, or nothing at all, for a song I can listen to only once.
    I might be willing to pay x + y amount for a song I can listen to an infinite number of times.
    I might be willing to pay x + y + z amount for a song I can listen to an infinite number of times and make N copies of for non-commercial use or put on an MP3 or other device.

    I need to know, before buying anything, the limitations imposed. I need to know what I can do. I need to know what I am buying.

    People shouldn't fear DRM.

    DRM will do to the music and movie industry that the cable industry did for/to the television industry.
    There will be "pay-per-view" channels where one can listen to something only once and make no copies.
    There will be "Showtime/HBO" channels where one pays a monthly fee for access to the record or movie library.
    There will be "free" channeles with commercials where one can make a recoding and do anything as long as it's for non-commerical use.

    The big record labels and movie studios won't go away. They will become less important.
    ABC, CBS, NBC, haven't gone away. HBO and Showtime have their niche. WGN, TBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, have their following. Pay-Per-View has it's place.

    Smaller bands will benefit immensely. Smaller bands will join together to form their own channels. Smaller movie producers will do the same.

    With DRM, a band could broadcast a live convert, over the Internet, with a listen once, no record limitations, for a certain fee.
    The same band could release previous music, with less restrictive DRM or no fees, to drum up support for their concert.
    To gain popularity, a band could broadcast a concert with less restrictive DRM.

    DRM will not stop piracy. Criminals will always find a way around DRM. Law enforcement will always have work to do.

    DRM will allow new business models much as the cable industry allowed new business models in the television industry.

    Perhaps the RIAA and MPAA see this coming. I doubt it. But, they will have no choice. They will face competition and lose market share just as the big three television networks did.
  • by foo fighter (151863) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @12:45PM (#14075953) Homepage
    The Bad Plus' lastest album "Suspicious Activity" (ironic!) has/had the DRM shit on it.

    The Bad Plus is an innovative jazz band that I really enjoy. I loved their album "These Are the Vistas" and had put "Suspicious Activity" on my end-of-year buying list of CDs I missed earlier in the year. I was also planning to see them live in Minneapolis right after Christmas.

    Then I saw the CD on the list.

    I sent an email to the band's management and promoters telling them how upset I was that their CD could mess up my computer and how it was a terrible breach of trust between the artist and the listener.

    Here's the message I got back the next day straight from their manager. I hope other affected artists and their management are as enlightened.

    Greetings Foo Fighter:

    The Bad Plus's manager here.

    I empathize with your point of view that OF COURSE you shouldn't acquire a disk which can wreak the kind of havoc to your computer that has been reported to occur.

    As you might imagine, this is an exasperating situation for us. We learned about the rootkit long after the fact and today all of us--you, The Bad Plus, other SONY/BMG creative artists, as well as SONY/BMG--are paying a price as a result of corporate's short-sighted, extraordinary folly.

    Please be assured that neither the band nor management agreed to SONY's.....creativity. We were blindsided by this as well. I will forward your correspondence to the label and be assured it will have far greater impact than their interest in addressing the concerns of either The Bad Plus and their manager. That said, on behalf of the band, we're sorry Foo Fighter. Truly. Much is being done in an effort to remedy the current situation--and reportedly clean discs will soon be issued. Check out the following.... []

    So please don't penalize yourself.....either wait it out or consider acquiring the album via iTunes. It's a terrific recording. I also hope you'll reconsider not making the drive to Minneapolis. If you make it to the show, you'll get a special gift.

    Thanks for writing and again, I'm so sorry for the frustration/upset/hassle/insanity.

    All best to you-
    Darryl Pitt
  • by mauriceh (3721) <> on Sunday November 20, 2005 @02:43PM (#14076621) Homepage
    Our firm does computer and network service for a few law firms.

    Based on that experience I can certainly assure you that most lawyers
    are about as tech illiterate as you can find.

    Not too surprising, as there is a noticable tendency:

    "The more arrogant one is, the less likely one is to be literate with anything outside of one's immediate field"

  • Re:CD audiophile (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AnEmbodiedMind (612071) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @07:10PM (#14078024)
    I fully understand the idea of really sitting and listening to a piece of music - really appreciating it, and having a real passion for it. You called for me to be modded up when I explained how that can work: in this post []

    The reason I think we are arguing here is your limited definition of the word "appreciated", and the special status you give yourself in regard to this term.

    There are several dimensions to appreciating music:
    1) the meaning of the lyrics
    2) associations and memories triggered by the music
    3) the connection between rhythm and movement - dance, head-banging, and toe tapping etc.
    4) aesthetics of melody, harmony and texture
    5) intellectual stimulation of comprehending compositional techniques
    6) enjoyment of great musicianship and virtuoso performance
    7) immersion and relaxation of the mind
    8) a hell of a lot more.

    I'm not sure which of these get you going when you listen to music.

    Your claim is that to really appreciate music you need the highest quality reproduction possible. However, the quality level of reproduction will only contribute to some of the dimensions of appreciation above -- dimensions which will be more or less significant in various peoples appreciation. More importantly, improving quality suffers from the law of diminishing returns - at some point quality reaches a point where it is no longer noticeably affecting your appreciation along whichever dimensions you are interested in. (Unless, as in your case, you start getting hung up on quality). For most people high bitrate mp3 is already there.

    I think that in your case (and with other audiophiles) you actually have begun to appreciate the quality of the reproduction as an end in itself! (which is cool - but that just leaves most people cold).

    But if you really sit and listen to a piece of music, and you find yourself really starting to like that piece of music, surely the next thing you're going to try and do is get more out of that experience? Like getting a better copy of that music.
    Getting more out of the experience? Depending on what people appreciate about music in the first place they wont necessarily get any more out of it with a higher quality recording. For them, it is good enough already. e.g. They are appreciating the skill of the instrumentalist or meaning of lyrics so much that a small change in the 4-5khz frequency response really isn't going to help.

    For them, getting a "better copy" of that music might mean a more inspired performance, or a hissy bootleg from a concert they attended when they had their first kiss. That might be what sends shivers up and down their spine when they close their eyes.

    If your appreciation of music is all about - say - really really getting into texture and subtlety in music (which I think it might be) you may want to focus on high quality reproduction. Otherwise it is a waste of time.

    It doesn't mean you are "appreciating" it more or less than other people - just that you get something different out of it.

    why do so many people spend thousands of pounds/dollars/Euros on pieces of hi-fi they put in rooms optimally designed for music listening?
    For a number of reasons:
    1) Their appreciation of music is more highly tied in with textural and reproduction of "accurate" sound, rather than other aspects of music.
    2) There is something weird going on with men and obsessing over tech specs (I suffer from this too)
    3) Expensive equipment like this is a status symbol, which makes the buyer feel good to own it in of itself
    4) Everybody needs a hobby
    5) It lets them claim that they are better than other people because only they have the privileged position of being able to "truly appreciate" music - through their economic ability to afford such equipment, and how it makes them feel that they are better than others.

    Note - this last point is what comes across in your first post, and why so many people will argue with you here, even if they might normally agree that quality of a recording can affect their appreciation of it.

  • arrogant-ware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spirit55 (891546) on Sunday November 20, 2005 @08:52PM (#14078517) Homepage
    The curious thing is that Sony stock went up about 10% since the rootkit was discovered.

    We need a catchy name for software that thinks it knows what's best for the user. Sony's software thinks I don't need to see files beginning with $$, my HP all-in-one driver thinks I want to devote 16 MB of RAM to it all the time when I only use it once a month. My ipod thinks I don't ever want to delete any files immediately after hearing them and just knows I want to use iTunes to organize ALL my music. My Brother laser printer thinks I want to see its "multiple page" window all the time. It goes on and on.

We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge. -- John Naisbitt, Megatrends