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Sunday, November 13, 2005

DRM = Digital Rights Management

Today's GBU ( Good Bad & Ugly)
is on Sony/BMG about music, but this impacts quite lot -- by implication, since it is a Microsoft issue with more ugly bugs than a south-african termite mound.

HUH? DRM? BUGS on Music CD's?

Some CD's you can buy in the store have software on them, for protecting the music on the CD.
Usually that special "feature" is labeled on the outside of the CD, but do not count on it.
They install on first use of the CD in a PC or home computer, and serve to control how the music on a CD is used . That product is called XCP and it installs 1 megabyte of software in your PC and hides it with a rootkit. The DRM PC rootkit idea was to prevent you from making casual "ok here you go" copies of Sony music and giving to friends who should be buying thier own copy. is this a real problem now? ... only sort-of. The impacted titles in the XCPDRM rootkit release are essentially lame. But the test of this XCP launch is a serious crash and burn for BMG/epic/columbia as the viral engines of bad news spread the planet with fear that some hacker will exploit the rootkit and use it for other nefarious purposes.

HOW? What is this Software on my Music CD?

A hidden, hard to find and defeat, cloaked system checker that has to monitor all system use to determine if music/video content is in use and being copied without authorization.

Problem. Copies are usually made on a Personal Computer. The one you buy stuff in the internet with, the one you do your homework on, the system you rely on to do personal banking and finance. Even the US Govt specifically stated 2 weeks ago that content protection should not include personal computer system invasion. First4Internet wrote the XCP DRM player, is based in the UK, and thier code is sloppy enough to scare the rest of the planet. Sony/BMG's mistake was to trust them.

Bigger Problem: this cloaking tool has system administrator user rights to read, write and execute hidden programs anywhere on your hard disk, and in system memory, creating a huge open wound in system security, now that hackers know the simpleminded cloaking key.
Sony has not yet chosen to work with microsoft to manage all this (they should) - stemming from the HD-DVD and Blu-ray -- Toshiba/Miscrosoft vs Sony situation, and well, basic arrogance on both sides.

In reality this is the Good Part, since Sony will (added: HAS) gracefully? fallen on thier swords over it, and microsoft will herald the "recovery" as something only they can properly provide...in yet another update that removes the XCP DRM rootkit tooling by First4Internet that Sony CD's installed...leading to a total recall of all the CD's involved.

Here is the Bad and UGLY part
- Microsoft made the rootkit functionality possible in thier operating systems so they could later do as they wanted to with a variety of hidden tools, on your machine, without you knowing it. Anyone with half a brain comes to the realization quickly that Microsoft deliberately left gaping holes in your supposedly secure PC, and all Sony did was try and use it.
It may have been a clumsy initial effort by Sony, but the true blame rests squarely with the now public knowlege that Windows operating system had 'Spying ON YOU' ability that could be engaged with a small amount of code later to be delivered in trusted media.


NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Sony BMG Music Entertainment has reached a tentative settlement with consumers who filed a class action lawsuit over the music company's copy-protection software on CDs, court papers show.
The lawsuit against Sony BMG, a joint venture of Japan's Sony Corp and Germany's Bertelsmann AG], stems from its use of controversial technology aimed at thwarting illegal copying of music on CDs. Consumers complained that the technology -- known as XCP -- violated their rights by potentially leaving computers vulnerable to hackers and allowing the company to track listening habits. The CDs with the XCP and MediaMax antipiracy software featured music from 52 popular artists including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Celine Dion. Under the proposed settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge in New York, consumers would be allowed to exchange the CDs for new ones without the copy-protection technology.

Sony BMG would also have to provide software to uninstall the technology and stop making CDs with XCP on them, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.
The settlement would entitle people who bought the CDs with the copy protection to a cash payment of $7.50 and one album download from a list of more than 200 titles. Alternatively, they could download three albums from the list.
A separate lawsuit was filed in November by the Texas attorney general against Sony BMG Music Entertainment accusing it of violating the state's laws on deceptive trade practices by hiding the "spyware" on its CDs.

Note: i have it on good authority that it was a BMG team that caused all this, some german arrogance basically, the Sony people i know were stunned and shocked that all this happened.


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