Texas Sues Sony BMG Over Rootkits

from the don't-mess-with-texas dept

Sony BMG execs may not think their rootkits are spyware, but the Texas attorney general doesn’t agree, announcing that the state has filed a civil lawsuit against Sony BMG for violating an anti-spyware law enacted earlier this year. The attorney general’s office said that Sony BMG CDs that feature the rootkits were still on sale in stores in the state as late as Sunday, even though the company had said they’d all been recalled. Sony could be liable for up to $100,000 per violation of the anti-spyware law, and the state says there were at least thousands of violations. While it’s unlikely they’ll have to pay the maximum amount for each alleged violation, this could turn into a big financial (in addition to PR) mess for Sony. There will probably be more suits like this filed in other states, class-action suits from consumers, and even potential copyright damages. So, all of that to stop Celine Dion songs from being pirated. Was it worth it, Sony?


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Comments on “Texas Sues Sony BMG Over Rootkits”

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26 Comments
Born in New York, raised in Cali, now a proud Texa says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't Mess With Texas

“no your not cali and new york started suing first.”

Ummm…don’t quite get how california comes into play regarding his initial message…or anything…and thank god being second or third or a thousandth doesn’t stop people from doing something or none of us would be here. And, hmmm, lets see, california is bleeding money as corporations and the middle class flee from that disaster plagued, illegal alien overrun, stupid-celebrity infested state that once again elected a mentally retarded actor for a governor…and New York, well New york has been limping through the recession since 911. Texas? Texas is one of the few states in the country whose economy is strong and whose job market is thriving, it sent one of it’s right wing kook governors to the white house but the jokes on America, Texas governors have VERY little power over the state legislature and in general. It also is the only state in the union that flies its flag at the same height as the American flag and reserves the right to secede from the union (just in case it becomes too much like “Cali”). Sounds like a much more independant, interesting and economically sound place than the failed socialist republic of “Cali” or the still limping state of New York.

randdickson says:

License ?

So does anyone know what the license said when installing the software ? I’m assuming they have the basic words about allowing them to install software and not being responsible for damage incurred because of said software.

While this is a PR nightmare I doubt they are libel for anything beyond being really really really stupid ,,, course the same thing could be said about people buying celine dion CDs and probably clicking ‘OK’ to every screen present to them during the install without reading it.

Riley says:

Financial Outlook: Grim

So any estimaes on how much this could end up costing Sony?

2 Million CDs times $100,000 = $200 BILLION. I suppose that is a worst case senario…

But add in all the class action lawsuits (which will likely be settled out of court), possible lawsuits for copyright infringment of the code, the cost of the recall and manufacturing changes, the cost of tech support for thousands and thousands of infected PCs. Ouch, what is their financial situation going to look like for this quarter and beyond? Is it time to short SNE?

Si (user link) says:

Sony Rootkit

I still don’t think that Sony (and the media firms) get it. In their last press release they still said that they were only “temporarily” discontinuing the spyware, as if there as a better way to implement it.
Many computers (my Dell) come with a DVD-ROM but you cannot watch a commercial DVD because of back room deals. I get a message stating that because of “copyright regulations” they cannot display the content.
Of course that didn’t last for long, there are many ways to get around that; its my content and I bought the CD legally on Amazon.

Justin says:

EULA

While these things scare off most of the sue happy crowd, I recall speaking with a lawyer who I had to have sign a waiver at a ski shop and he said despite signing his name to it they pretty much hold little to no legal weight whatsoever.

Esspecially when a retailer or service provider makes it something required to make the product run or use. It’s basically forcing the consumer to do so under duress, not the same as a loaded gun no doubt, but to someone who has just made a purchase and we all know no retailer around takes back opened CDs, DVDs, or any other copyrighted material.

Bill says:

Re: Re: Re: EULA - proven in court?

Yes, in WI, which is 7th district court.

CD PRO vs Kershaw (sp?)

CD pro produced a compliation of phone book data, and this guy ripped it off to make his own software. Since phone book data is public, it couldn’t be copyrighted, and the only protection was the EULA.

Judge said that an EULA is like auto insurance, that you buy it before you see the policy, and if you don’t like it when your policy come sin the mail you can cancel.

There was no metion what to do if Best Buy or the Software company won’t give you a refund and you disagree with the EULA.

Since it was a State law, The ruling currently only applies in WI.

zcat says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Switchfoot - Nothing Is Sound

The most amusing part; well before I had even heard about the whole XCP fiasco my wife mentioned that she wanted the latest Switchfoot CD.
I checked online and found people complaining that the copy protection allowed ZERO copying, no transfers even in protected format, etc. Even Switchfoot themselves were pissed off about it!
I also pointed out to Sue that the CD was designed not to let her play the music on her cheap MP3 player (no DRM formats, only mp3 and wav), might not work in the DVD player, and there was a fair chance it wouldn’t play in Linux either.
She agreed even though she thinks ‘copyright infringement’ is wrong (it’s kind-of like stealing) it would be pretty stupid to pay for a CD that turns out to be completely unplayable to us and can’t be returned either.
So I downloaded it instead.
It’s a great album by the way. Sue’s put some money aside to pay for it already but we can’t find a mailing address that doesn’t go through Sony 🙁

Rick says:

Stock Price

I am appalled that the stock price hasn’t been affected that much. The last three months show a low of just under $32 a share, and a High of nearly $37 a share. If you own Sony stock, you might want to do a short sell, if not buy in a day or so. I hate to say it, but Sony won’t stay down long, even if they deserve it.

Does anyone know of a site that lists the CD’s that had the root-kits on them?

Bob says:

Suits

Now it’s become serious. Once a state decides to sue, it’s only a matter of time before others get emboldened to jump on the bandwagon. In the coming days expect to see more states and others try to cash in on the mayhem. With state budgets at historic lows, this windfall of a suit could prove an easy get and also quite profitable.

I actually feel sorry for Sony in all of this. They make good products, it’s unfortunate that the limited vision of a few bumbling executives has now mired this corporation in serious legal trouble, and all attempts to downplay the graveness of it all has only served to fan the public flames.

Will anyone at all come to the defense of Sony? Probably not, it’s competitors are probably now licking their chops in anticipation of the slaughter.

Tim Howland (user link) says:

EFF Just filed a class-action lawsuit

EFF just joined in the fun:
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2005_11.php#004192

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with two leading national class action law firms, today filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG, demanding that the company repair the damage done by the First4Internet XCP and SunnComm MediaMax software it included on over 24 million music CDs.
EFF is pleased that Sony BMG has taken steps in acknowledging the security risks caused by the XCP CDs, including a recall of the infected discs. However, these measures still fall short of what the company needs to do to fix the problems caused to customers by XCP, and Sony BMG has failed entirely to respond to concerns about MediaMax, which affects over 20 million CDs — ten times the number of CDs as the XCP software.

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