Create a PR nightmare and alienate consumers.Mikey 4 comments
Even the most cunning of plans can be thwarted by a single, strategically placed moron. I never knew who said that and I can't remember where I sourced it so many years ago, but it remains as my favourite quote and now coincidentally an apt description of recent shenanigans from none other than Sony BMG.Earlier this month several reports began to surface regarding Sony's software (called a Rootkit - the equivalent of spyware) installing onto personal computers without the users knowledge. It has since been discovered that the Rootkit creates a security issue leaving users vulnerable and potentially exposed to identity theft. The Rootkit is completely invisible and can not be removed. Microsoft have acknowledged it as a legitimate security threat and promptly deployed a tool to remove the offending software.
Sony also deployed their own removal tool, but it did an inadequate job leaving DRM residue behind and additionally it was discovered that the uninstall tool had its own security issues.
If it could not get any more embarrassing for Sony, it is now apparent that Sony used software that is part of the GPL, which means Sony was obligated by law to make the source code readily available to everyone. Since Sony did not do this, they have clearly violated the GPL and need to be prosecuted under the full strength of the law. Several law suits have now started to appear against Sony. Texas is seeking penalties of $100,000 per violation based on the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, which was enacted earlier this year.
Facing an enormous PR disaster, Sony have recalled 4.7 million affected CD's from sale and are footing the cost of shipping and replacements. They have also stopped manufacturing CD's with the DRM technology.
The best part is still to come. Despite millions of dollars invested into DRM technology, circumvention methods are always aplenty. This is my favourite. By simply placing a small piece of sticky tape on the outside edge of a DRM 'protected' CD, a computer CD Rom will treat it as any regular non-DRM managed CD, making it easy to copy or convert to MP3 format.
Millions of dollars and five years have passed and no company has successfully managed to create a DRM solution that hasn't been easily thwarted within days. You have to wonder - what exactly is the point?
The fact is, no matter how good the protection method is, ultimately all you need to do is load up any WAV recorder program and start recording what you hear. It's that simple. No amount of DRM protection can prevent this from happening.
Sony has created a security threat, hurt sales which affect the artists they represent, violated the GPL, cost untold amount of time and energy of system administrators having to resecure internal computer systems, and betrayed the consumer.
The question now needs to be asked. Will Sony get off lightly? If a smaller, less financially equipped company violated the GPL and deliberately created a security risk on thousands of computers, jail time would be involved. I strongly believe Sony needs to be made an example of. A fine simply will not suffice.
When a virus is released 'into the wild' and eventually the author caught, does he get the opportunity to fix the problem? No, not even if he could. Instead legal proceedings are swift and the offender jailed.
This needs to happen here.