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Sony to pay $1.5 million for subjecting consumers to DRM

Written by Dave Horvath @ 20 Dec 2006 5:24 User comments (27)

Sony to pay $1.5 million for subjecting consumers to DRM Music entertainment giants Sony BMG Entertainment will pay the sum of $1.5 million in addition to thousands of consumer refunds to settle out of court. A lawsuit brought up in California and Texas courts was filed over Sony putting DRM and anti-piracy software on their music CDs which would then become installed on the consumer's computer. This was not only hidden from the consumer but was found to open a huge back door security hole in the user's machine. When this was brought up to the people at Sony BMG, their removal tactics at the time caused damage to the computers they had infected.
The two types of copy-protection software that were loaded on consumer's computers are known as MediaMax and XCP.

The two settlements state that California and Texas will each receive $750,000 in civil penalties and costs. Additionally, Sony BMG agreed to reimburse consumers who had their computers damaged when attempting to uninstall this malicious software. Although this sounds noble in effort, Sony has agreed that anyone who files a claim can receive a ratehr generous sum ranging between $25 and $175 in refunds. I, personally am not sure who at Sony BMG did market research on average repair costs, but this seems a tad low.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer had this to say about the case. "Companies that want to load their CDs with software that limits the ability to copy music should fully inform consumers about it, not hide it, and make sure it doesn't inflict security vulnerabilities on computers"

Fox News

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27 user comments

120.12.2006 5:28

Woopass to sony.....

220.12.2006 6:21

awesome, that is the only word that can explain it. Bout time sony had something go wrong.

320.12.2006 6:33

LOL, when was the last thing Sony did right. Release the Trinitron series of TVs

420.12.2006 7:00

Sony is so freaking insecure..they feel like everybody pirates all thir products! no it backfired!! may this be a lesson to sony

520.12.2006 8:41

Maybe it's just me, but isn't 1.5 million dollars a little light for a MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR International company? That's like giving someone a $2 speeding ticket-----really gonna teach them a lesson, eh? DRM and any copy or backup limiting features should be illegal. THIS SOFTWARE ASSUMES WE ARE ALL CRIMINALS, and isn't the basis of both the American and Canadian legal systems 'INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY'? May SONY and their employees, artists, and representatives burn in hell. Proprietary f**kwads anyway, I've never owned Sony anything, and now I never will.

620.12.2006 11:12

I personally think they got off easy. I can't find exactly how much they are worth but as Kronyk420 stated they are a huge company and $1.5 million pocket change to them. On the customers getting between $25-$175, that is way to little. Just as an example if you have GeekSquad do a DVD worth of backup for you, its $230. If you want more stuff done (backed up or otherwise) it costs even more. As stated in the article, I wonder who did the repair estimates for $ony. Peace

720.12.2006 11:43

That penalty is a slap on the wrist for Sony or any of the other big labels. Frankly, the whole thing infringes on privacy in a major way. The concept--which is basically a hack--is just wrong, dirty and intentionaly misleading. These big record companies think they can do whatever they please. I'm glad is standing up to them. Its about time some one did.

820.12.2006 12:22

So what do the consumers get out of this deal? Probably something like $5 off their next CD purchase....yeah right. I for one canceled my Sony BMG subscription right after this rootkit fiasco and plan on NEVER buying another Sony product. Take that Sony you bastards!

920.12.2006 15:06

$25-$175 a cpu? what are they smoking at sony bmg that would make them calculate this amount? what sony bmg should do is replace all the cpus that were damaged beyond repair and give these hard working PAYING customers 100 pk cd+r to download the music from p2ps and burn them.

1020.12.2006 21:58

It's funny how Sony and other companies always whine about losing billions of dollars to piracy, when infact they are quoting arbitrary numbers as if every unit that was alleged to be pirated would have been purchased. In this case they did lose money...and that's something their accounting dept can verify.

1120.12.2006 23:23


1220.12.2006 23:44

Seriously? $25-$175 thats not gunna be enough to replace anything, what parts exactly was their "copy-protection" able to break? I know it could brake CD/DVD drives but was it bad enough to ruin CPU's and other components as well?

It's funny how Sony and other companies always whine about losing billions of dollars to piracy, when infact they are quoting arbitrary numbers as if every unit that was alleged to be pirated would have been purchased.
That is exactly right, all the files ive pirated the last few years(yes i admit it i have pirated from time to time) I would never EVER buy any of the programs or songs. They claim that they lose however many billion $$$ every year but the simple fact is very few of the people who pirate things would actually bother getting them at all had they not been free. So all there numbers are completely incorrect.

1321.12.2006 8:17

Quick question about XCP: couldn't you just format your computer and get rid of the problems that way?

1421.12.2006 11:44

^ From what I've read, these softwares (and the methoeds used to quickly remove them) can actually damage devices. I assume that this means that they messed with the firmware, in which case the device could be fixed by reinstalling the firmware. I don't think they actually "ruined" hardware components, just the firmware on them. It's pretty difficult to ruin hardware with software.

1521.12.2006 14:15

$1.5 million is pocket change to Sony. And yet someone who obviously has some tech skills (the guy that got jailed for 5 months for setting up a P2P network in the other article) gets imprisioned for 5 months of his life plus house arrest. Whoever the idiot at Sony who thought of this so-called "copy protection" should get some jail time too, and pay back every single customer from his own pocket in full whose pc's were damaged by this.

1621.12.2006 15:26

Why didn't Sony just offer to pay shipping both ways & any necessary repair to any computer sent to their own computer repair department that has EITHER of those hacks on it? I'm sure they could do it for ~$25 per system. :D

1721.12.2006 16:39

Andrew691 is completely correct. Downloading is done by people who will not purchase or think about purchasing the merchandise. A majority of the stuff I have done has yet to be listened to or even looked at. Its just there if a desire to look at the download ever comes up. There figures are very much inflated.

1821.12.2006 17:12

Doesn't Sony gross $1.5 million every 5 seconds? People need to go to jail for this bull!

1921.12.2006 17:41

Slap on the wrist. Courts are quick to put pirates away, but corporations, they let off scot-free.

2021.12.2006 19:49

So wait.... do you have to live in California or Texas to take advantage of this? Anyone know where to find more info on this?? Because the settlement seems totally different from the information on: I guess that must be a nationwide settlement. Geesh, I wish my state would get off its ass and get me some cash for this! We got screwed with the software on the Charlotte Martin CD. Somehow, it doesn't seem fair, that if you live in California or Texas, that your damages would somehow be more costly!

2121.12.2006 22:05


Did you have any permanent hardware problems? I'd like to know what exactly this malware "damaged", as no one seems to know.


2222.12.2006 6:28

This also gives validation for wanting to download music and video without DRM. Who would buy a CD or DVD or downloadable music that installs ANYTHING on your computer??? Yet I think almost every CD and DVD you buy tries to install something if you put it in your computer. Downloadable music you need iTunes or some software that ALSO installs DRM software. You got a new notebook/laptop for school, you aren't gonna want to slow it down with this stuff on it.

2322.12.2006 8:22


Until this kind of DRM malware, audio CDs never installed anything on your PC, unless they had some kind of exclusive content or the like, which you could OPT to download. I wouldn't worry about getting a bunch of sticky malware from CDs, at least not anymore.


2422.12.2006 11:15

^@anne Did you have any permanent hardware problems? I'd like to know what exactly this malware "damaged", as no one seems to know. "Damages" is a legal term. All the hours that were wasted fixing this spyware and the fact that people were not informed it was happening to their systems. Any damage resulting from this piece of crud opening systems wide open for destruction by other viruses. That sort of thing. Those are damages enough, for which Sony and any other mega-corporations of similar intent, should be punished.

2522.12.2006 14:04

I still say this is a win for big corporations who want to create and spread viruses. Now it looks like all they need to do is call it a DRM and say "Click Yes to Install."

2625.12.2006 20:41

Computer virus From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A computer virus is a computer program written to alter the way a computer operates, without the permission or knowledge of the user, it hides in other program files. sounds like a virus to me. i guess if you are a multi billion dollar company you don't go to jail for the distribution of a computer virus. corporate america sux.

2726.12.2006 11:29

I would never buy another CD or DVD from Sony ever again. The only way is to punish them in their pockets.Their only language is money.

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