MediaMax is a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) developed by SunnComm and deployed on some audio CDs from the record label BMG. It is supposed to stop unauthorized copying and sharing of music from a protected audio CD. It installs itself on both Microsoft's Windows Operating System and Mac OS X, but not on Linux or any other OS.
On a MediaMax disc is an extra track (data) which contains an installer that automatically runs (if autorun is enabled) when the CD is inserted into a CD/DVD drive. The user is then asked to agree to an EULA to install the software (this part is controversial and will be discussed further shortly) and once it is installed, it will automatically boot with the operating system on each boot.
From then on, a protected disc can be detected by MediaMax if it has a special "watermark" in the audio on the disc. The MediaMax software then enforces the limitations on the disc.
If you have bought a MediaMax CD and installed the DRM on your OS, you are subject to certain limitations. Firstly, there are compressed WMA files included on the disc which you can use. However, you can only burn tracks to a CDR a total of 3 times. You can somewhat share the files, but they will be DRM protected and expire in 10 days.
If you have installed MediaMax, it's not very easy to uninstall (although much easier than the infamous XCP DRM). In fact, if you agreed to the EULA (end user license agreement) before installation, you may be legally obliged to keep the software installed.
MediaMax is controversial for many reasons. Firstly, if you insert the disc and refuse to accept the EULA, the DRM software is installed anyway without your knowledge. When it is installed on your OS, it is often considered malware because of how it behaves; it intercepts low-level user commands and alters without the user's agreement.
Since MediaMax relies on an autorun feature to install to an OS, simply holding down the Shift key after inserting the CD will disable the autorun feature and the disc will be like any normal disc.
News History for MediaMax
- Sony to pay $1.5 million for subjecting consumers to DRM (20 December 2006)
- Judge Grants Final Approval for Sony BMG CD Settlement (24 May 2006)
- https://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/7278.cfm (5 February 2006)
- NCC raises digital rights concerns (22 January 2006)
- More artists take a stand against DRM (16 December 2005)
- Sony BMG to re-evaluate CD protection (12 December 2005)
- EFF: SunnComm's MediaMax security patch is not secure (9 December 2005)
- More insecure CDs from Sony BMG (7 December 2005)
- Another lawsuit filed against Sony (3 December 2005)
- First copy protected CD tops U.S. charts (18 June 2004)
- Shift-key lawsuit withdrawn (12 October 2003)
- Student uses Shift key, gets sued (9 October 2003)
- BMG licenses SunnComm's MediaMax protection (30 June 2003)