You Knew It Was Inevitable

I also like how “Sony BMG” is being used to name a computer system defect – the PR folks must be having a cow: Hackers use Sony BMG to hide on PCs [pdf]

A computer security firm said on Thursday it had discovered the first virus that uses music publisher Sony BMG’s controversial CD copy-protection software to hide on PCs and wreak havoc.

Under a subject line containing the words “Photo approval,” a hacker has mass-mailed the so-called Stinx-E trojan virus to British email addresses, said British anti-virus firm Sophos.

When recipients click on an attachment, they install malware, which may tear down a computer’s firewall and give hackers access to a PC. The malware hides by using Sony BMG software that is also hidden — the software would have been installed on a computer when consumers played Sony’s copy-protected music CDs.

“This leaves Sony in a real tangle. It was already getting bad press about its copy-protection software, and this new hack exploit will make it even worse,” said Sophos’s Graham Cluley.

Ya think?

Related: Give Me Back My Digital Rights!

See also CNet’s ‘Bots’ for Sony CD software spotted online

Later: Sony BMG pulls CD software [pdf]; WaPo: Sony to Suspend Making Antipiracy CDs; also a broader commentary in the NYTimes’ The Ghost in the CD; Sony rootkit prompts office clampdown on CD use

IP Experiment Starts Up

Company to Start Offering Free Use of Patents It Holds

A new patent-holding company, the Open Invention Network, is expected to begin operations today with the unusual business plan of buying certain patents and licensing them without charge.

The company has the financial backing of five technology and consumer electronics companies – I.B.M., Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony – who share an interest in promoting the spread and adoption of the free Linux operating system.

Opening Salvo In An FCC Decency Push?

Delays, Low Fines Weaken FCC Attack on Indecency

Some chairmen made it a priority to collect fines; others let the penalties languish until the agency’s five-year statute of limitations voided them. None of the chairmen was quick about it. The record shows that an average of 16 months passes from the broadcast date of an incident to the issuance of an indecency ruling. One case took 56 months to resolve.

[…] “I am concerned by the length of time it historically has taken for the commission to act on a complaint,” said Kevin J. Martin, a Republican who became chairman in March. “Since I became chairman, we have been working to develop a process to reduce that time frame.”

[…] Part of the problem, the agency says, is that fines are too low — a maximum of $32,500. If broadcasters refuse to pay, the cases are turned over for enforcement to the Department of Justice, which has little incentive to pursue such small fines, members of Congress have said. Of four proposed fines turned over to the department, it collected two and refused to pursue two.

[…] Some groups say the government should no longer monitor the nation’s airwaves because technology — such as the V-chip and cable and satellite blocking systems — allows parents to determine what their children watch.

“We’re hoping that regulators, lawmakers and the American public come to the same conclusion we have, that the system is broken,” said James Dyke, executive director of Television Watch, a coalition that includes most major television networks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, some politically conservative organizations and First Amendment academics.

“The first step is realizing that the system is outdated and can easily be hijacked by a very few, if not one individual,” he said.