Eating the Apple

Eve did it. Adam did it. Now it's my turn to take a bite. Why not? Hey! It's delicious.

Friday, December 02, 2005

No Recall of Sony Rootkit CDs

Mark Russinovich has just posted a piece on www.sysinternals.com with the headline:

Premature Victory Celebration?

There is just one thing wrong with this. The question mark should be an exclamation mark.

Contrary to reports in news media and on the internet, Sony does not have a recall or return policy that applies to retail stores. Even after Thanksgiving, retailers like Walmart, Kmart, and Best Buy still sell the rootkit CDs to unsuspecting customers. There is no indication that Sony has told retailers and wholesalers to return these CDs. Sales of 'rootkit' CDs will likely continue until current stocks are exhausted, maybe after Christmas.

Sony's website(www.sonybmg.com) does not use the word 'recall'. All they offer is a 'mail-in exchange' program whereby they will replace a 'rootkit' CD with a replacement without the XCP software. There is nothing in Sony's language that would stop them from replacing an XCP CD with one that has another type of copy protection software. I predict that they will do exactly that.

I believe that Sony's management has made the cynical calculation that they can still make a hefty profit from XCP discs even after counting the cost of the exchange program. Profits still can be made in spite of the bad publicity, in spite of the warning from the Department of Homeland Security (www.us-cert.gov), and in spite of potential lawsuits. Sony can figure that only a small percentage of Americans will know or care about the copy protection controversy. And only a small number of people will take the trouble to mail back the CD. And if someone's computer is disabled by the XCP software -- Sony can sell him a brand new VAIO.

Sony can probably fend off any lawsuits and string them out until the plantiffs' resources are exhausted. And what about the Attorneys General of New York and Texas? Sony could very easily use their influence with those great paragons of virtue and integrity -- the state legislatures -- and nip off those lawsuits.

It seems that Sony has not learned anything from the XCP scandal. I predict that Sony will expand its use of copy protection software on music CDs. In a year all of Sony's CDs and DVDs will be copy protected. All Sony's management seems to care about is profits. Sony's behaviour will not change until there is a major impact on the bottom line. I, for one, will not buy ANY Sony products.

Meanwhile millions of people will receive Christmas presents that make their computers vulnerable to all kinds of malware and jeopardize their credit cards and bank accounts.

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