November 21, 2005

And an EFF Class Action…. [5:53 pm]

EFF Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Sony BMG

The suit, to be filed in Los Angeles County Superior court, alleges that the XCP and SunnComm technologies have been installed on the computers of millions of unsuspecting music customers when they used their CDs on machines running the Windows operating system. Researchers have shown that the XCP technology was designed to have many of the qualities of a “rootkit.” It was written with the intent of concealing its presence and operation from the owner of the computer, and once installed, it degrades the performance of the machine, opens new security vulnerabilities, and installs updates through an Internet connection to Sony BMG’s servers. The nature of a rootkit makes it extremely difficult to remove, often leaving reformatting the computer’s hard drive as the only solution. When Sony BMG offered a program to uninstall the dangerous XCP software, researchers found that the installer itself opened even more security vulnerabilities in users’ machines. Sony BMG has still refused to use its marketing prowess to widely publicize its recall program to reach the over 2 million XCP-infected customers, has failed to compensate users whose computers were affected and has not eliminated the outrageous terms found in its End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).

The EFF litigation page

permalink to just this entry

TX Goes After Sony BMG [5:37 pm]

Texas sues Sony BMG over alleged spyware

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Sony BMG Music Entertainment for allegedly including spyware on its media player designed to thwart music copying.

According to the lawsuit filed in Travis County, several of the company’s music compact discs require customers to download Sony’s media players if they want to listen to the CDs on a computer.

Findlaw has the complaint

Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas, through his Consumer Protection and Public Health Division, in the name of the State of Texas, brings this action under the authority granted to him by section 48.102 of the Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act (”CPACSA”), Tex. Bus & Com. Code. § 48.001 et seq. (Vernon Supp. 2005)

State of Texas press release: Attorney General Abbott Brings First Enforcement Action In Nation Against Sony Bmg For Spyware Violations

For all the backdrop, see BoingBoing’s timeline/links - part 1, part 2

Later: Sony BMG Sued Over CD’s With Anti-Piracy Software

permalink to just this entry

Surprise, Surprise [12:42 pm]

Sprint Brings Music Direct to Cellphones, But Price Is Too High [pdf]

Sprint says its higher price is justified by the convenience factor, the ability to buy a song on the go, when the impulse strikes. The company compares this to paying more than usual for milk at an all-night convenience store, or for hot dogs at a ballpark. Also, Sprint contends, there are many people who find PC-based music stores too hard to use, and they will be willing to pay more for something simpler.

I believe something else is at work here: a lethal combination of two industries many consumers believe typically charge too much. One is the bumbling record industry, which has been seeking to raise prices in the fledgling legal downloading market even as it continues to bleed from free, illegal downloading. The other is the cellphone carriers, or, as I like to call them, “the Soviet ministries,” which too often treat their customers as captive and refuse to allow open competition for services they offer over their networks.

Via Slashdot’s Costly Music Store Coming to Cellphones

permalink to just this entry

Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning [12:26 pm]

Sadly, DivX is not compatible with OS X 10.4/QT 7, so I’ll just have to take the article’s word for it (update: an email from DivX says I spoke too soon - something to test when I get to work tomorrow): Free Internet “Star Trek” spoof is top Finnish film [pdf]

A spoof of science-fiction classic “Star Trek” has become Finland’s most viewed movie, relying on free distribution over the Internet to reach more than three million viewers in less than two months.

permalink to just this entry

Making A Point, Online [11:09 am]

What should not have been an unexpected use of Amazon.com’s consumer review feature: Railing at Sony BMG, Disguised as a Review

Of course, a survey of recent tags - which, unless they are specifically made private, are designed to be viewed by the public - reveals that snarky Internet shoppers have quickly turned Amazon.com’s tagging system into digital graffiti.

[...] Last week, after a grueling 14-day joust with technology bloggers, who discovered clandestine programming code - called a rootkit - and other embarrassing security flaws in the copy-restriction software Sony BMG had placed on some of its CD’s, the music publisher recalled nearly three million affected albums from store and warehouse shelves. It also offered to exchange the roughly two million more that customers had already bought. (Visit upsrow.com/sonybmg if you’re one of them.)

The list of buggy albums had a little something for everyone - from Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong to Switchfoot, The Dead 60’s and Flatt & Scruggs - but in an unfortunate turn for the dozens of artists who could not have known what copy-protection software their overlords would place on their CD’s, customers at Amazon.com had little to say about the music.

“Evil” and “scumware” were among the tags attached to the country duo Johnny and Donnie Van Zant’s “Get Right with the Man” - the first album identified by the blogosphere as containing Sony BMG’s doomed D.R.M. software. And “rootkit” is now a tag attached to many Sony BMG titles.

“Do not buy” is another.

Among the customer “reviews” posted under the Van Zant album last week was this observation: “Regardless of the legendary family name or anything the group does from here on out, they will forever be remembered for releasing this album.”

“It’s kind of unfair to us,” Johnny Van Zant said of the whole affair, no doubt echoing the thoughts of other Sony BMG artists whose albums are now unfairly (albeit sometimes hilariously) trashed, tagged or wholly ignored in favor of copyright bickering at Amazon.com

Also, today’s Foxtrot:

Later: David Berlind continues with the story: Sony rootkit: The untold story

The Sony rootkit fiasco is the equivalent of that red light somewhere way down the line that some runaway train in the movies blew through. Somewhere in a control booth far away is someone flicking some indicator light with his finger. He knows something’s wrong, but he’s not ready to sound the alarms just yet. It’s the squadron of Japanese Zeros heading for Pearl Harbor that the radar technicians mistook for a flock of birds. We are ignoring the warning signs even though they’re right in front of our faces. We are heading for a situation that we are all going to dreadfully regret — essentially the bad pipe dream that Doc Searls wrote about in his recent treatise — if we don’t treat the Sony rootkit issue as a symptom of a much much bigger problem.

If the Sony rootkit case study teaches us anything, it’s how the fear of Internet-inspired economic punishment can result in a rapid change of direction. Sony is pulling its rootkit CDs from the market and not a moment too soon. Though we don’t know what Sony will come up with over the long term to replace it, it is ultimately the best conclusion anybody could have asked for. It’s proof that public outrage can work. Now, if only we can apply that same outrage to the real problem, then and only then will things start to look up.

We’ll see what the EFF comes up with today.

Also, in re complaining online at Amazon, see Jack Thompson vs Amazon?

permalink to just this entry

Harvard Librarian Profiled [11:04 am]

A look at the Google Book Search Project: At Harvard, a Man, a Plan and a Scanner

Until two years ago, the congenial and energetic Mr. [Sydney] Verba was chairman of the board of Harvard University Press. And in that position, he witnessed mounting anxiety about the future of publishing, especially with the advent of digital texts.

“Scanning the whole text makes publishers very nervous,” he said. “I have sympathy with that. They have to be assured there will be security, that no one will hack in and steal contents, or sell it to someone.”

And as the author or co-author of 18 books, he understands the worry that Google’s digitization project might cause writers over loss of income or control of their work. Many of his own books are still in print.

But as a librarian and a teacher, he argues that the digital project will meet the needs of students who gravitate to the Internet - and Google in particular - to conduct their research. And he says he believes the project will aid the library’s broader mission to preserve academic material and make it accessible to the world.

He was taken aback when Google was sued, first in September by a group of authors, then last month by five major publishers.

See also earlier Googling Literature: The Debate Goes Public; Lessig’s weblog posting following the NY Library discussion

permalink to just this entry

Snocap Profile in NYTimes [9:33 am]

Putting the Napster Genie Back in the Bottle

[Shawn Fanning's] new company, called Snocap, has produced software that can enable music services to fulfill the original promise of Napster - a community of dedicated fans exchanging a wide selection of music - while monitoring the file-trading for copyrighted works. The new Grokster will still use peer-to-peer technology, which lets users download songs directly to one another’s computers. But when a user tries to get a copyrighted file, Snocap can block the download or force the user to pay for it, depending on what the artist and label want.

IF Snocap catches on - still a very big “if” because only one file-sharing service has signed up to use the software - it will vindicate Mr. Fanning’s passionately held belief that if Napster had been allowed to live, it would have become a legitimate and profitable sales outlet for artists and music companies. After the original Napster closed, the name was sold to a new company that sells licensed music under paid subscriptions and does not use peer-to-peer technology.

“Nobody has ever built a reliable peer-to-peer service, where people can really access all the music they want in one location,” Mr. Fanning said. “Once I got it into my head, I couldn’t imagine the media space without one.”

[...] His new company, called Snocap, has produced software that can enable music services to fulfill the original promise of Napster - a community of dedicated fans exchanging a wide selection of music - while monitoring the file-trading for copyrighted works. The new Grokster will still use peer-to-peer technology, which lets users download songs directly to one another’s computers. But when a user tries to get a copyrighted file, Snocap can block the download or force the user to pay for it, depending on what the artist and label want.

IF Snocap catches on - still a very big “if” because only one file-sharing service has signed up to use the software - it will vindicate Mr. Fanning’s passionately held belief that if Napster had been allowed to live, it would have become a legitimate and profitable sales outlet for artists and music companies. After the original Napster closed, the name was sold to a new company that sells licensed music under paid subscriptions and does not use peer-to-peer technology.

“Nobody has ever built a reliable peer-to-peer service, where people can really access all the music they want in one location,” Mr. Fanning said. “Once I got it into my head, I couldn’t imagine the media space without one.”

Slashdot’s Harnessing the Power of P2P, Looking Back

permalink to just this entry

Sony BMG Rootkit Fallout [9:19 am]

Who has the right to control your PC?

“A personal computer is called a personal computer because it’s yours,” said Andrew Moss, Microsoft’s senior director of technical policy. “Anything that runs on that computer, you should have control over.”

Sounds simple, but it’s not.

[...] The controversy over Sony’s copy protection highlights two ideas of property that are clashing as the technology and entertainment worlds converge.

Record labels and movie studios have complained bitterly over the last few years that their intellectual property rights in films, music and games are routinely undermined by people burning copies of discs or DVDs, or trading files online. [...]

[...] But if some computer owners have shown a lack of respect for intellectual property rights, Sony’s invasive content protection tools displayed a similarly tone-deaf attitude to consumers’ sense of ownership over their own PCs, critics say.

“If you wanted to take something from the lesson of Sony’s rootkit, it should be that people want their demands for respect and autonomy to be taken more seriously,” said Julie Cohen, a Georgetown University law professor who has written extensively on the intersection of property and technology.

See also Slashdot’s President of RIAA Says Sony-BMG Did Nothing Wrong and Piece of Tape Defeats Sony DRM and Gartner’s Sony BMG DRM a Public-Relations and Technology Failure

permalink to just this entry

November 2005
S M T W T F S
« Oct   Dec »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  
posts

0.346 || Powered by WordPress