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Sony Media Music

Sony BMG Settles Over CD DRM 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the sorry-about-that dept.
aurispector writes "Sony BMG Music Entertainment will pay $1.5 million and kick in thousands more in customer refunds to settle lawsuits brought by California and Texas over music CDs that installed a hidden anti-piracy program on consumers' computers. The settlements, announced Tuesday, cover lawsuits over CDs loaded with one of two types of copy-protection software — known as MediaMax or XCP. Although it's great to see this as a victory for consumers, I can't help but wonder about the next wave of DRM schemes."
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Sony BMG Settles Over CD DRM

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:34PM (#17319630) Homepage Journal
    Each State gets $750,000 -- customers will share "thousands more."

    Nice. Real way to protect the consumer.
    • Next Step (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:41PM (#17319716) Homepage
      Is anyone going after the antivirus/antispyware companies whose offerings gave the rootkit a pass?
      • Re:Next Step (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @08:10PM (#17319968) Homepage Journal
        Hmmmmn, while we should indeed go after the anti-virus vendors, I think the next step should be to ask why some sony exec isn't recieving jail time for deliberate malware distribution to millions of PCs.
        • I mean, they did agree to pay $1.5 Milllllion dollars!

          Now please excuse me, I need to count the 15 pennies that I'm now entitled to.

          Fuck Sony.
        • Re:Next Step (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:21PM (#17321036)

          No kidding -- and you know what the worst part is? If it had been an individual doing this, he would have gotten the jail time! But since it's a big corporation responsible, they get the best "justice" money can buy.

          Anybody know the names of the dumbass judges/prosecutors that approved this? I, for one, would like to help them realize just how asinine this settlement is by bitching them out!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by xrobertcmx (802547)
            It could be worse. It could be like the Verizon Wireless coupon settlement that was just approved. $15.00 off your bill or a qualifying Verizon Wireless service. Customers no longer with Verizon Wireless must sign up for a Verizon Wireless plan to use the coupon. Tell me who approved that?
            • Although that's true, pointing it out doesn't help the situation. In fact, I think you ought to refrain from doing so because it cultivates an attitude of sheepish acceptance.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by xrobertcmx (802547)
                Sheepish Acceptance on whose part? Not mine. All it did for me was convince me that when my contract with Cingular was up I wouldn't be going back to Verizon Wireless. I am one of those people with a regretable tendancy to bookmark the FCC complaint form and use it when I can't get proper service.
          • Anybody know the names of the dumbass judges/prosecutors that approved this?

            What incentive do Attorneys General and/or (especially) professional Class Action litigators have not to be dumbasses (or parasites) on geeky matters that make such minuscule media ripples?

            Mind you, I enthusiastically support the freedom to enjoy the fruits of one's labor and to engage in commerce with minimal State intrusion. That said, representing a Class in a court of law is not a right, it is a privilege that exists *bec

        • by be-fan (61476)
          Because it was at best negligent distribution of spyware (the software was contracted by their BMG subsidiary prior to their buying it).
        • by be-fan (61476)
          Clarification: it was contracted by BMG before Sony bought BMG.

          Also, that's really the whole point of a corporation, the concept of "limited liability".
          • Also, that's really the whole point of a corporation, the concept of "limited liability".

            Corporations have limited liability in financial matters, but is that still the case when a criminal offence is committed (as is the case here)?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by putaro (235078)
            The "limited liability" applies to *shareholders*, not to corporations as a whole or to corporate officers. Limited liability simply means that shareholders are only liable for the amount that they invested in the company, nothing more. It doesn't place corporations above the law or limit the amount of damages that can be levied against them. What it means is that if a company is bankrupted by a liability you can't then move on to the shareholders and say "Hey, you owned a piece of this company that owes
        • This was a lawsuit (civil). Jail time wasn't even on the table.

          Silly rabbit, the police rarely arrest rich white guys.
      • Re:Next Step (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lightspawn (155347) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:44PM (#17320748) Homepage
        Is anyone going after the antivirus/antispyware companies whose offerings gave the rootkit a pass?

        How about the OS vendor that runs untrusted code off a CD without as much as bothering to inform the user?
    • by cashman73 (855518) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:43PM (#17319738) Journal
      Consumers won't get, "thousands more." From the article, "In addition, Sony BMG agreed to reimburse consumers whose computers were damaged while trying to uninstall the XCP software. Customers in both states can file a claim with Sony BMG to receive refunds of up to $175."

      "Customers have 180 days to file claims, which must include a description of how their computer was harmed and documentation of repair expenses."

      Granted, $175 is still a decent amount of money. So if you're computer was reasonably fscked, it would probably be a good idea to go through the paperwork. Unfortunately, Sony is probably betting that most people will probably decide it's not worth the hassle. Then, there's the fact that about half of the paperwork customers file will end up going to some overworked, incompetent paper-pusher office slave who will either take way too long to approve the request, or reject it for some bullsh*t reason,...

      • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NOsPAM.mac.com> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:51PM (#17319798) Journal
        Granted, $175 is still a decent amount of money.

        Nope. Sony got off very lightly here.

        -jcr

      • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:55PM (#17319826) Journal
        I'm wondering how vigorously the claims are checked. If it's mostly just a matter of filling in the applicable paperwork and waiting for it, I can see people just deciding to get free money and filing a claim, regardless of actual damage. Heck, it might be fun to figure out how/where to get the form, what needs to appear on it and get as many people as possible to send one in. Sort of 'slashdot' the system.
        • "Heck, it might be fun to figure out how/where to get the form, what needs to appear on it and get as many people as possible to send one in. Sort of 'slashdot' the system."

          Here [sonybmgcdt...lement.com] you go.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Mex (191941)
        Sir, I am in Mexico and even here, 175 dollars is not "A decent amount of money".
      • by babbling (952366)
        Exactly. $1.5m + $175 for each customer who is aware of this, technically adept enough to realise what happened and describe how it affected their computer, yet didn't fix the problem themselves and paid someone else to fix it (I think almost no one fits this description) is less than a slap on the wrist for Sony. They probably still made more because of the CDs that people can't put onto their MP3 player, meaning that they must rebuy their music in a different format.
      • by hey! (33014)
        So, what if you still have one of these CDs in your posession. Maybe you haven't tried playing it on your computer yet.

        What they should do is offer to replace any affected CDs in your posession and give you a modest sum, say $50 total, for your trouble. The only proof you woudl need is posession of one of the bad CDs. There is no way to value the time and damage done by these things, so since the state AGs felt compelled to set such an absurdly low figure, they might as well set it even lower yet make it p
    • by garylian (870843)
      That was my thoughts, exactly.

      1.5 million, with the rest probably being a buck or two here and there. Hardly a punishment to a huge company like Sony BMG.

      A quote from TFA: In a news conference Tuesday in Austin, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot said the settlement sent a clear message.

      "Texans deserve to be protected from harmful hidden software that threatens their privacy or the security of their computers," he said.


      This wasn't a slap on the wrist. This was brushing the lint off of their lapels.

      sarcasm
    • 1.5 million. Million with an "M"? That is chump change to Sony. Why not order them to pay 25 cents? Punitive damages that really hit them in the wallet like 1.5 Billion with a "B" would be more appropriate.
  • by ePhil_One (634771) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:35PM (#17319642) Journal
    So not only $1.5 Million in fines, but THOUSANDS more in refunds? So this could cost Sony a total of $1.503 Million dollars? I was going to invest in Sony stock until I noticed that lst little caveat, raising the punishment a potential two or 3 tenths of a percentage point.

    Sony is Doomed.

  • Cheap DRM Research (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:37PM (#17319660) Journal
    Doesn't sound like Sony got particularly chastised here. If I were Sony, or any other company interested in inflicting DRM on my customers, I'd happily pay the fees that they're talking about here. Total cost is less than $10M, which is a drop in the bucket for a large, multi-national corporation. If they succeed in inflicting their DRM, they win by taking our rights away. If they lose, then they get some R & D done about how to do better next time. If this judgement were to mean anything to the consumer, there would have to be significant punitive damages as well (I'm thinking in the neighbourhood of $100M or more).

    Either way, not much to see here. Big company does nasty things with DRM, gets caught, walks away with dignity and wallet intact.

    mandelbr0t
  • Thousands of unsold copies of some long-forgotten Mariah Carey album.
  • SparkArt? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hotrodman (472382) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:42PM (#17319728)
    After having dealt with some of these people, I'd say the next wave is coming from a little company called SparkArt. They also get into 'Viral Marketing'. SA deals with Sony as well, so this little company would be one to keep an eye on in the future......
  • This is sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by urbanradar (1001140) <timothyfielding@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:43PM (#17319742) Homepage
    Everyone saw it coming, but it's still sad. If I broke into your house and got caught, I would never get away with simply having to replace the broken lock and saying I'm sorry. But when Sony violate their customers' rights as gravely as they did, they get away with paying what amounts to little more than a token fee.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bazorg (911295)
      Now all we can do is have the Slashdot effect move outside the borders of teh intarweb. eveytime you see someone considering buying something from Sony, spread some FUD aloud so all shoppers hear you.
  • Trusted Computing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HAL9000_mirror (1029222) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @07:52PM (#17319804)
    "Although it's great to see this as a victory for consumers, I can't help but wonder about the next wave of DRM schemes."
    With any disrupting technology, one can use it for "safer" computing or "treacherous" computing (remember P2P?!). It almost looks like entertainment industry is waiting to embrace this (one once it matures) and use it treacherously. BTW, my research area is trusted computing and I believe this technology is the first step towards safer computing. It is so very un-scientific to blindly disregard any technology at inception. All in all, you want it or not, corporations are going to push it into your home PC very soon...
  • Fair Compensation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alyred (667815) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @08:00PM (#17319880)
    So, let's see. When Sony thinks that someone has "pirated" music, they sue them for, what, $1,500 per song, yet illegally invade people's computers and privacy and get off with a hundred dollars or so per person?

    Where's the justice in that?
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) * on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @08:02PM (#17319896) Journal
    Why did the states take the settlement? There is no way that Sony could have won this. TX and CA should have rode it out!
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      No offense dude. But that's a dumb qestion. The lawsuit was being headed by the regular corruptable people - Sony, a company very likely full of corrupted people, just passed the infection along. And so they got a small fine. Just enough to say that "something" was done.
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      Why did the states take the settlement?

      Its the way the legal system works. It makes little sense to take a corp to court when you are garanteed to get $750k. Its good enough, and even Sony is not stupid enough to pull this trick again. The state won, the people won, Sony lost, and even 10x more "profit" to the state would not really be more of a win.

      Most cases like this are settled, and that is good enough. Its rare that a corporation treats this as "the cost of doing business" because the courts will l
  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @08:02PM (#17319902)
    60 million would be an insult. They spend more than that on ad campagnes. 1.5 million? That's like a paper cut. On the low side it should have been 200 million to settle. There is some serious corruption going on.
    • by PhotoGuy (189467)
      A papercut? That is something that draws blood, causes annoyance, and some pain and discomfort. This judgement is more akin to a slight itch on your arm you scratch subconsciously...
  • Sony BMG Music Entertainment will pay $1.5 million and kick in thousands more in customer refunds to settle lawsuits brought by California and Texas over music CDs that installed a hidden anti-piracy program on consumers' computers.

    I'm sure the ashtray of the Sony CFO's Mercedes 600SEL will miss that pocket change.

  • by raap (675041) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @08:06PM (#17319936)
    This story report is horrible! First it's the Sony rootkit. Name it as such. Not some "DRM" bullshit. Second: "victory for consumers" ? This is wrong on so many levels, I don't believe it. We are customers, not consumers. And no, it's not a victory, not at all. Sony did commit thousands of computer crimes for purely financial interests and got a slap on the wrist. Kevin Mitnick would be in Jail for 3000 years for this. And if my information is correct, the settlement states explicitly, that Sony does not recognize any guilt. Sorry for this rant. But how can such a misleading article be on the front page?
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Especially within the last 6 months, the editors pick the more inflammatory submission about a topic (facts need not be considered) and slap on a useless and sensational title. The information in the articles is interesting, but only the most emotional and least factually correct are picked. I guess it drives up the page views.
  • by zentigger (203922) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @08:15PM (#17320024) Homepage
    If I hacked into thousands of computers and installed a root kit without permission, I'm pretty sure I would be facing enough jail-time to seriously stretch my sphincter. In Texas, I bet that would probably be enough to get the chair! Someone should be going to jail for this kinda crap, and Sony should have their corporate charter dismissed and the assets seized. (corporate death sentence)
    • by mpcooke3 (306161) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:07PM (#17320476) Homepage
      Now, now, don't try and make out that the law would somehow treat you "differently" to Sony.

      All you would need to do is become part or a cartel that engages in international price fixing, rip off millions of music lovers and thousands of artists, hire hundreds of lawyers and lobbyists and you too will get a decent legal defence.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Sony should have their corporate charter dismissed and the assets seized.

            No, just take the board of directors who were in charge at the time, and throw them in jail. Whoops. Let's see if the new board decides to do this kind of thing again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ender Ryan (79406)
      Someone should be going to jail for this kinda crap, and Sony should have their corporate charter dismissed and the assets seized.

      You know, I "hate" a lot of companies. In particular, I "hate" Microsoft -- although I only truly hate companies guilty of more egregious crimes. Not because they are the "most evil" company in the world, but simply because they interfere with my career, harass me at work, and have done a lot of damage in my industry(IMHO).

      Still... MS corporate execs perjured themselves in cou
      • the "rootkit" was not developed by any division of Sony

        What an absolutely STUPID thing to point out.
        If I shoot you in the head do I get off because I didn't design the gun?

        Now go ahead. Call me a "fanboi" again.

        Grow some balls and hold people responsible for their actions you fucking fanboi!

        A private individual would be in jail for TENS of years for doing something like this. Seizing their assets and disbanding them isn't shit. I'm sure there are TONS of criminals who would rather have everyth
      • by hey! (33014) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#17324612) Homepage Journal

        That said, I do consider the "rootkit" to be criminal, and I do indeed think criminal charges should be considered. One must take into consideration, however, the "rootkit" was not developed by any division of Sony, and we cannot rush to conclusions that any of the Sony execs you folks are calling for immediate pound-me-in-the-ass sentences for had any idea what it was exactly they were doing.


        If there is any uncertainty, a proper criminal investigation would eliminate it. There surely must be correspondence between Sony and the developer, including detailed product specifications.

        There's a kernel of truth in what you say though. This kind of thing happens all the time in business, because normal people aren't inclined to examine their actions ethically. They go by what "sounds right", which is why the industry is so keen on the term "piracy".

        If rootkit vendor had used the colloquial (but inaccurate) term "computer virus" to describe their product, Sony execs might well have been mortified. However, if the vendor described the actual operation of a rootkit in the context of reducing copyright infringement, carefully using neutral terminology, it is quite possible that the execs would see nothing illegal or immoral about it. Quite the contrary, since they were protecting their own legal and ethical rights, it might have seemed like a morally good thing to do.

        Which is no excuse. You can't say "Gee, I guess I didn't think the consequences through very carefully," when you torch your neighbors house.

  • 1.3 mil, hmm... I am sure that's even less than a slap on the wrist for Sony. So what's even lower than a slap on the wrist, a tickle on the finger?

    so as a consumer, am I still allowed to sue Sony for "hacking my computer and breaking it."? Probably not, eh? How about I got and install rootkit on some Sony's computer?

    -------------------

    say what's on your mind - online confession and anon email @ my website http://www.sayitt.com/ [sayitt.com]

    • by man_ls (248470)
      If you exclude yourself from the Class in writing, yes, you are. Otherwise, no, you are not.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      I am sure that's even less than a slap on the wrist for Sony.

            Sure. It's actually a good investment.

            "What, you mean that for just 1.5M dollars we can put a rootkit on 2 million computers? Right on!"
  • With Microsoft, you've got to PAY THEM to install virus-prone software on your computer...
  • A couple law firms in each state made some money, Sony expends more effort farting than it takes to make 1.5 million, and the people fucked over directly by their CRAPWARE get a shitty pittance.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:07PM (#17320474)
    First they should be criminally liable. What they did is computer-sabotage for commercial gain. Only prison-time is acceptable.

    Second, they should have to pay everybody the cost of professional cleanup. I would say that is at least $150 per customer hit, probably more.

    I think they got out of thi extremely cheap. Not acceptable for clearly criminal behaviour.
    • by Nephilium (684559)

      As an aside... they are offering $175 to each person who complains to them about the rootkit... or fills out their form...

      Not that I'm happy with the outcome... but they are getting hit for that... assuming people fill out the paperwork...

      Nephilium

      With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves. - Milton Friedman

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gweihir (88907)
        As an aside... they are offering $175 to each person who complains to them about the rootkit... or fills out their form...

        Ok, that is reasonable. But that they can get out of this without any criminal liability is just not ritght. In what way are they different from a common hacker, except that they commited the crime far more often, for commercial gain and in a conspiracy?
  • /. writeup totally confused: Read a better writeup [zdnet.com]. California and Texas have settled - five other states still get to rake Sony across the coals.
  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @12:31AM (#17321882) Homepage
    I would pretty much bet that they'll charge this whole thing against the cd sales of the artists that had this crap on their cds, effectively costing sony nothing. Remember that this is a company that still makes artists pay for "breakage" on iTunes sales.
  • Sony needed to be smacked a lot harder than this. They probably make that much by selling a couple Britney clone CDs.
  • So that's California and Texas. Are there any other States/countries/etc that are still bringing about charges/damages against Sony?
  • Has there ever been a class action lawsuit where the company didn't get off easy, the consumers got anything more than a token kickback and the lawyers didn't get rich?

    I suppose this result is marginally better than most because in a large number of the class action lawsuits the individuals only get coupons or something lame.

    However, $1.5 million is nothing for a company as large as Sony. According to the article each state involved gets $750,000. However, the article also says that in California 450,000

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