Some Sony news

You had to know we couldn’t make it to the end of the year without another story about the Sony DRM rootkit…. I noticed last night that the sunbelt blog had mention of a proposed settlement in their legal troubles in the wake of the XCP copy protection DRM rootkit MESS. *(Mediamax is not quite forgotten either.)

According to the proposed settlement, they will stop making XCP and MediaMax protected discs and recall the XCP discs (funny, I thought they were supposedly doing that…) Also “provide software to update and uninstall XCP and MediaMax content protection software from consumers’ computers;” which is something they should do anyway (settlement or no, it’s the right thing to do…) and “ensure that ongoing fixes to all SONY BMG content protection software are readily available to consumers;” again…. ummm shouldn’t this be an assumed responsibility of someone distributing software? ” implement consumer-oriented changes in operating practices with respect to all CDs with content protection software that SONY BMG manufactures in the next two years;” – oh that cinches it – good deal (sarcasm…) Seriously though – WHAT DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO? Who judges that the changes are “consumer-oriented”?

It goes on…. “waive specified provisions currently contained in XCP and MediaMax software End-User Licensing Agreements (“EULAs”);” (the provisions in the EULA that likely weren’t legally enforcable anyway?) “refrain from collecting personal information about users of XCP CDs or MediaMax CDs without their affirmative consent;” – oh in other words do what companies are expected to do, get permission to collect personal information…. ” provide additional settlement benefits to Settlement Class Members including cash payments, “clean” replacement CDs without content protection software, and free music downloads.” Ah… give them cash payments and they’ll be happy and forget. I thought the clean replacement cd’s were part of the XCP recall that was supposedly already going on?

All in all, after reading this I can’t help but think what real penalty there is for Sony, the above things for the most part are reversals of either things they never should have done (or couldn’t have enforced), or things that a responsible company ought to do anyway. The tougher provision it seems to me is worded loosely enough that it could be widely interpreted…

I’m not quite sure what I would expect though as it is the class action and restitution of replacement cd’s or a full refund is probably the extent of possibilities. I guess if I had a PC that I had put one of these cd’s in and then ultimately had to reinstall to get rid of the rootkit, I’d be a bit ticked if the biggest thing I got from the settlement was a replacement cd. Just me…. I’ll be interested to see how some of the state AG suits start to shape up.

The SecurityFix is reporting that the preliminary settlement was agreed upon by both parties in this first case on the 27th of December (This is from the Kamber and Associates suit…)

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