The Difficulty Of Suing Sony BMG For Violating GPL With Their Rootkit
from the ain't-so-easy dept
Back when the Sony rootkit fiasco hit, some people noticed the irony that this product Sony kept insisting was designed to "protect" intellectual property was actually making unauthorized use of some open source code, and not abiding by the license the software was released under. Now, Digg points out that DVD Jon, the author of some of the code being used (extra amusing, since the his claim to fame is breaking copy protection and getting sued by the entertainment industry), has discovered it doesn't really make sense to sue Sony BMG, because the work isn't registered at the Copyright Office. The code is covered by copyright, but the law says you can only go after statutory damages (basically above the nominal damages) if it's registered. Secondly, it's difficult to prove what those nominal damages are -- especially since the code was GPL'd. Basically, there aren't really any nominal damages. The only way to get money is to go for statutory damages -- and you can't do that without a registered copyright. If Sony BMG were still using the software, then he could sue to get them to stop -- but since they've officially stopped (even if they're still widely available) there just isn't that much to be gained in a lawsuit. So, basically, there's almost no remedy for him under the law -- making it pretty pointless to sue at this point, no matter how amusing the resulting lawsuit would have been.