How Sony BMG's Rootkit Is Impacting Sales

from the not-going-well dept

One common refrain that we all heard from lots of people after the Sony rootkit story became news was that people weren’t going to buy Sony offerings any more. Of course, it’s easy to say that — but how many people actually follow through? At least when it comes to certain CDs, it seems to have had quite an impact. The artists whose CDs were outfitted with the rootkit quickly saw their sales plummet and it seems to be impacting a few other Sony BMG artists also. It sounds like those musicians are not happy. They’re hearing about it from fans, and it’s impacting their own publicity efforts — even if they had no say in the decision to include copy protection technology on the CDs. So how long until a Sony BMG artist sues the label for damaging their reputation with copy protection?

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Comments on “How Sony BMG's Rootkit Is Impacting Sales”

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Scott says:

conflicting reports...

According to the Register, Sony sales have not suffered (nearly enough) from this fiasco.
Folk who I’ve talked to about this fall neatly into two camps. Those like myself, who rely on their PCs for business, pleasure, social life etc etc take the whole thing very seriously, while people for whom their PC is ‘EMail and the Internet’ smile and give me that glazed look which I’ve come to recognise as ‘go away you’re being geeky’.
I genuinely belive that if we don’t stop this sort of abuse right now, we will soon find ourselves in a position where it is impossible to stop. Unfortunately, Sony is/are right, most people don’t know or care what a rootkit is, and so the idea that one has been forced upon them just goes in one ear and out the other.

If Sony want to control my DVD Burner then they can bloody well pay for it themselves, otherwise it’s mine to do with as I please!

theStorminMormon says:

Re: conflicting reports...

In a way it doesn’t matter if the sales impact is from the CDs being pulled from shelves or from boycott action. In either case, it’s a direct result of the rootkit. I know that pretty recent the Texas AG found that the CDs were still available in several retail outlets, however. That’s why they launched their own lawsuit.

I’m also not sure that you would expect or really need to see an impact of this on the larger Sony group – so I’m not sure if previous post was looking at Sony/BMG or just Sony (including their consumer electronics, etc.) We really only need to impact Sony/BMG to get their attention.

In any case, I consider this more of a warning shot than an all-out onslaught. This is the first time a company has so blatanly crossed the line from protecting their own content to actually attacking their consumers. While I’d love to see Sony/BMG taken to the cleaners, I’m satisfied with any reaction that demonstrates a willingness on the part of their consumers to fight back.

Sony will be back. Either Sony or some other record label or film distributor. This is the trial run of an impending battle, and I’m glad to see that the advocates of reasonable copy protection and consumer rights have some fire power of their own.


Anonymous Coward says:

I am boycotting Sony

And my friends are too. My friend asked me last night what I thought of a Sony MP3 player, and I told him all about the rootkit/spyware fiasco. This has happened several times with several people in the last few weeks … All told I can personally account for about $1500 in lost Sony sales in just a few weeks. Sony should be worried if others’ experiences are anything like mine.

Sony’s problem is that the people who are most likely to know about and be appalled by the rootkit issue are the same trusted people their friends come to for all tech/gadget issues. BEFORE they buy.

The Serenity says:

Sony Fiasco

I could care about sony’s rootkit; (though be glad it was not installed into an Alternate Data Stream, then nobody would have found it for a good long damn time.) I guess the reason I do not care is that whenever some ID10T company tries this stuff it is almost guarenteed to cause them 3X as much in stolen records via burning. There will always be a way for someone to get around someone elses software, and I am not sure sony is ready to go head to head with the hacking community. I am sure you will have no issues finding a torent that allows you to get copies of the CD’s which “should” no longer be on the shelf. If sony would like to stop this crap before it gets too big they should set a trend and drop the price of CD’s… a 5$ CD would certainly cause me to stop burning someone elses CD to my HD….. But on the flip side, I have somewhere in the realm of 48gigs of music…. so i already have most of what I want…. and a lot i don’t… I say we need to find a way to put Spyware on the CEO’s PC so he can’t use it… see how he likes it…

BurnVictim (user link) says:

Returned the CD

I purchased one of these copy protected CDs and couldn’t play past track 6. I sent it back with an angry letter – got no response whatsoever. I thought, until about a week ago, that I was the only one who would ever *not* purchase a copy protected music CD – heck – we don’t even have a CD player in the house anymore – all digital…. I hope these guys learn their lesson.
I also wrote a comment on Amazon about the offending CDs

Curry (user link) says:

What's the deal?

So, are we sure that Sony has ‘spyware’ on their cds? Sony is denying that it is spyware. Also, if it is spyware I couldn’t care less. I like Sony, and their products. If people don’t keep their computers protected, it’s their own faults. And I also believe (no proof, but it could be very likely) that artists actually sign an agreement with Sony allowing them to put this coding on the discs. I’m not sure if all Sony cds are affected, but an artist list that I saw included all artists that had a beef with Napster and are physically trying to stop piracy. Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I think it’s a conspiracy…the artists agreed so their music wouldn’t be pirated but now that people have found out about this they’re telling Sony to take it out to get their sales back up.

Pointer says:

Re: What's the deal?

you’re missing the point captain clueless, this “spyware”
leaves your computer open to attacks from far more harmful computer viruses and the like. If you woke up tomorrow morning and couldnt use your computer because of some sort of virus you’d start to care believe me. Besides, any one would some self respect would not allow ANYONE to place things within their property without their permission. What’s the deal? The deal is when your computer gets hijacked and sends me and a million other people spam or worse, more viruses. Can you say “economy loses millions of dollars due to virus attack” can you say “my computer doesnt work anymore and i dont know why”. Even My grandma gets it, but apparently you have been left out of the loop on this one. “i like Sony”, well they despise and mistrust you and think you are a thief and think nothing of vandalising your expensive computer. That’s the deal.

fredfrumppy says:

Re: Re: What's the deal?

unfortunately, most people dont know/care about spyware. if u dont value your computer as more than a browser, then u arnt going to want to waste time worrying about rootkits, even if u know what could potentially happen. sony took the risk of distributing spyware knowing full well that while some people would raise a red flag, in the majority of cases it would slip by unnoticed. Fortunately, word got out and the cds were recalled before full damage was done.

Fundriving says:

A ongoing skirmish in a protracted war

The rootkit fiasco has been a good chink in the armor of corporate global power that, in this case, computer savy people have been able to use to win a small victory in protecting privacy. The war is far from over. In all the threads on this topic, the two points that we must all understand point to the only two weapons we can use against companies like Sony. Our ability to Communicate and our aggregate purchasing power.

We need to communicate the problem to as many non-savy people as possible in plain language and convince people to protest with their spending power. Public humiliation and economic damage is the only thing that brings change in the corporate world.

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