Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Sony BMG's Rootkit Violated Federal Law; Company Agrees To Pay To Fix Damaged Computers

from the pay-up dept

While Sony BMG already settled the class action lawsuit against it for their rootkit copy protection that opened up security holes on computers that were difficult to fix and hidden in a way that made them difficult to find, that didn't get them totally out of the hot water. There was also an investigation to see if the rootkits violated federal law -- and apparently they did. The company has reached an agreement with the FTC, and unlike the typical agreement where a company "doesn't admit guilt," in this case Sony BMG clearly states that they violated federal law with the rootkits, and will reimburse people up to $150 if their computers were damaged by the software. This is interesting for a variety of reasons, including that it should help make various companies a little more careful before just throwing any kind of copy protection on their media without knowing what it's actually doing or what liabilities they might face for using the copy protection. The most amazing thing in all of this, though, is that the DRM in question did absolutely nothing positive for Sony BMG. It cost them money directly in having to pay for the software. It cost them their reputation. And, now it cost them from a legal standpoint. And, despite all of that, it never even came close to protecting the content that it was associated with. So, what, exactly is the benefit of DRM again?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2007 @ 6:37pm

    If they violated federal computer laws, shouldn't people be going to prison, be banned from the internet and computers, etc.? Oh, wait, I forgot laws don't apply the same to everyone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    anon, Jan 30th, 2007 @ 8:23pm


    We see it all too often... Gates should be in jail too...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    john, Jan 30th, 2007 @ 9:46pm


    up to some point i could say: "FINALY A JACK ASS BIG COMPANY HAS TO PAY" but if you or me had done it we would gone straight to jail no questions asked locked up and they would toss the key in to the ocean but wait the have money rich people dont go to jail they should give the a more expensive fine that hitted them below the belt like force them to give away ps3 to every member in past present of the bgm cause if the shoe was in the other foot they would try to implant evidence and get us banned from the internet

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    jack handy, Jan 30th, 2007 @ 10:23pm

    how exactly do you put your shoe in your foot??

    ...or implant evidence? ouch! that sounds more painful that being hitted below the belt! in the past present, even!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    ScytheNoire, Jan 30th, 2007 @ 11:26pm

    i agree, i want to know why the people who created, and the executives who were involved are not in prison. they admit to launching a virus attack, and last i checked, you can serve a lot of federal prison time for that, along with not being allowed to use a computer or the internet for a set period of time. i'd like to see some executives go to prison over this.

    DRM should be banned, and i think in Europe and Canada it is coming closer to being banned. DRM serves no useful purpose and has cost more money and caused more problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Nasty Old Geezer, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 4:50am

    DRM doesn't work

    But the only way to get Sony and the other music companies off of it is to hit them financially. Don't buy ANYTHING from Sony until they start imposing no-DRM as an industry standard, the way they are forcing Blu-Ray. IF they can suffer even a 5% sales loss it will be enough.

    I would love for someone to go to jail, but it won't happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    dataGuy, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 6:02am

    Re: DRM doesn't work

    I'm doing my part - have not bought anything Sony since this happened. I will not buy any Sony products until the Alzheimer's Disease kicks in.

    This seems to be the single largest infection of PCs in history - many people need to go to jail!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Frink, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re

    It should be a federal crime for someone to post a comment in this manner unless that person is under the age of seven. That made my eyes hurt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re

    I think lemur abuse is a federal crime under the
    endangered species protection act.

    Frink! Frink!

    Sony did not launch a virus attack. You had to buy
    the CD to get the root kit. It's easy to avoid such
    danger by avoiding sony products and down loading
    your music off teh intarwebs instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Trav, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Ban Sony

    I haven't bought any Sony music since this came to light, and I may never buy from them again.
    Luckily, thanks to Microslobs, I have to reformat my hard-drive and reinstall the OS every year or so, whether I like it or not. So I'm about due to wipe the system clean and start over again - sans any Sony Rootkits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 5:39pm


    It would be interesting to see the judge's sentencing comments when he explained why they got such a light sentence. If I did that, I would get much more harshly treated, I should think, so so should they.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 6:17pm

    Uh, Sony BMG did not admit guilt. The article you quote may have said that, but the settlement agreement did not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Bella Carney, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 11:55am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Jane-Ann Jones, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 12:07pm

    whats up!

    hey dude whats up, um i heard that about your rootkit copies, man i dig it cause sumthin like that happened to me it was totally awsome DUDE!!!!!! YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!! WE SHOULD TOTALLY HOOK UP SOME TIME AND MAKE ROOTKITS TOGETHER. ROCK ON WITH UR LIFE!!!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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