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Sony, Amazon Detail Rootkit CD Buybacks 240

Posted by Zonk
from the finally-some-customer-service dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Washingtonpost.com is reporting that Sony BMG today detailed a program that should allow customers who bought one of the 52 titles known to be tainted with the company's deeply flawed anti-piracy software to exchange them for CDs of the same title, sans rootkit of course. Oddly enough, Sony is offering those who want to return the CDs the chance to download MP3 versions of the discs, but only after Sony has received the returned discs. Amazon.com also is sending out e-mails to customers who bought the discs, offering to replace or refund them at no cost."
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Sony, Amazon Detail Rootkit CD Buybacks

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  • by sehlat (180760) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:25PM (#14067486)
    And how will we know Sony isn't trying something *ELSE* with their dissatisfied customers as guinea pigs?
  • No Cash? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysqlrocks (783488) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:27PM (#14067495) Homepage Journal
    No option to get cash back? I'd want my money back if I were one of the unfortunate people who had bought one of these CDs.
  • Lawsuits? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by r_glen (679664) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:28PM (#14067499)
    A refund isn't enough - I hope to see some lawsuits go forward against Sony, as the very least to scare other companies from trying something like this.
  • Updates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dorkygeek (898295) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:29PM (#14067506) Journal

    Why does Sony not simply provide an update for their rootkit? Improved security, expanded DRM, and distinguished keylogging, get it all now with Sony's rootkit 2.0. New and improved.

    Always at your service

    sincerely yours, Sony.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:29PM (#14067513)
    Sony seems to be in PR-damage control mode but they could care less about the customers. Sony *still* has failed to release any sort of uninstaller that truly cleans up the affected systems. Great move, there.
  • what about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ltwally (313043) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:30PM (#14067521) Homepage Journal
    "Sony BMG today detailed a program that should allow customers who bought one of the 52 titles known to be tained with the company's deeply flawed anti-piracy software to exchange them for CDs of the same title, sans rootkit of course."
    What about damages incurred to those who unknowingly installed the rootkit? What about the cost of removal? IMHO, it would be in Sony's best interest to offer something beyond just replacing the defective rootkit'd product... As an added incentive to Sony, such an action might look good in their up-coming trials from the lawsuits resulting from their rootkit.
  • Re:MP3 files (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:31PM (#14067529)
    Not watermarking to sue... watermarking to "prove their point" that they need the rootkit stuff because if they distribute mp3s, they will be spread throughout the internet and ruin their revenues.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:31PM (#14067534) Homepage Journal
    I have owned Sony Walkmen, Playstation, Playstation 2, etc.

    I have owned dozens of Sony CDs.

    I have 6 Sony audio components.

    I will NEVER buy another Sony product ever again, and I urge ALL of you to do the same.


    Keep in mind that this is Sony/BMG, where Sony only owns 50%, and where BMG were the ones who brought DRM into the picture. Sony on the other hand is selling MP3 players and Vaio PCs with bundled ripping-hadware/software.

    Anyhow, heads *should* roll over this in Sony. Instead I fear they will just sue First4Internet and pretend that ignorance is acceptable.

    Regards,
    --
    *Art
  • by BushCheney08 (917605) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:38PM (#14067573)
    Could you please point to your source regarding BMG being the ones who brought DRM into the picture? You make it sound like Sony is new to the music game. They've been at it for a very long time, via the Sony Group, Columbia Records, Epic Records, and many imprints that fall under those labels.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:40PM (#14067582)
    I guess 5 seconds after the two first guys have downloaded their mp3's (they are obviously die-hard hackers) they have run diff on those files, and if the files are not equal after 10 minutes we'll learn what kind of tracker Sony has put there...
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:50PM (#14067643)
    Sony BMG today detailed a program that should allow customers who bought one of the 52 titles known to be tained with the company's deeply flawed anti-piracy software to exchange them for CDs of the same title, sans rootkit of course.

    No no no! They got it all wrong. They should do what my friend's landlord did when he kept complaining that the dishwasher didn't work: They came, turned it on, and when it made noise, they said, "It works fine." And of course, it didn't: First, it smelled disgusting in there, like there was rotten food inside the machine. Second, just because it sprayed (dirty smelling) water doesn't mean it "works fine." Third, if you put a dish in there that was clean to begin with, it came out dirty. And I believe that such a dishwasher makes a perfect analogy for compact discs that contain defective software.

    So what Sony should do is this: They should publicly offer customers who bought one of the flawed CDs to exchange them for identical ones! As if we're talking about workmanship in the production of the compact disc proper and not the contents. Hey, just act like you don't know a darn thing about technology when it comes to this type of thing! And when the customer complains that the replacement still contains the rootkit, just say, "It works fine."

    Sony. Where do you want to go today? (Hell, they almost make Microsoft look good in comparison. Almost.)

  • Re:No Cash? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SoCalChris (573049) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:50PM (#14067645) Journal
    If you bought it from Amazon...

    How many people bought them at WalMart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Warehouse, etc...? Are they able to get a refund?
  • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:50PM (#14067648)
    Keep in mind that this is Sony/BMG, where Sony only owns 50%, and where BMG were the ones who brought DRM into the picture.

    Isn't this the same Sony who tried to foist their ATRAC proprietary codec on us which locks us into their hardware and requires their Sonicstage crap? I don't think that is the BMG side.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:52PM (#14067658)
    ... 2 weeks waiting for my replacement disc, and when I opened my "Suspicious Activity" CD again, I just didn't really feel like listening to it any more.
  • Hmm... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Now.Imperfect (917684) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:53PM (#14067661) Homepage
    I don't really like that they are giving you mp3s. 90% of the reason I buy the actual disc is because i like to have it as a hard copy.

    Yay Amazon
    Nay Sony
  • Re:Ahoy! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:55PM (#14067677)
    And on a serious note, does anyone find it comical that now they are offering MP3 downloads? Seems like Sony realized that it's a CHEAPER and more EFFICIENT way of distributing music. Too bad the music companies aren't realizing this sooner.
  • Re:Sans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:56PM (#14067686) Homepage Journal
    On the Sony site, they are talking about a secure updater which removes the rootkit:

    If you obtain regular security updates from a major anti-virus service, you should receive an update through that process. You may also download the update yourself from http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/updates.html [sonybmg.com].

    The update its talking about simply removes the rootkit, but does not remove the copy protection portion.

    Therefore, I believe these disks will still be executable in format (besides, any with images/videos on will need the media player software as well...)

    Just read the home page on the sony site, they still don't get it:

    Going forward, we will continue to identify new ways to meet demands for flexibility in how you and other consumers listen to music.

    We just want true cds without any bullshit, plain and simple.
  • Re:MP3 files (Score:3, Insightful)

    by masklinn (823351) <slashdot,org&masklinn,net> on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:02PM (#14067710)
    That said, what bitrate, frequency and codec is used for the MP3s?
    It doesn't matter, the sole fact that they're trying to swap CDs with mp3 is a joke already, no matter what the quality is.
  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot,org&masklinn,net> on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:05PM (#14067740)
    Keep in mind that this is Sony/BMG, where Sony only owns 50%, and where BMG were the ones who brought DRM into the picture. Sony on the other hand is selling MP3 players and Vaio PCs with bundled ripping-hadware/software.

    Wanna bet? Sony doesn't give heck about their customers, not only their products are often no more than average, but they want full control over their customers (backers of blu-ray, DRM schemes, ... )

    Had you ever played a SoE MMORPG (be it either EverQuest or EverQuest 2), you'd know how Sony does not give a rat's ass about customer satisfaction and has only one desire: fuck said customer until it's ass bleeds.

  • Sony and Satan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:15PM (#14067784) Journal
    Well the Devil had a brand new plan,
    "I don't want any ordinary DRM!"
    So he called his boys at Sony Corp,
    "I'll make this fast and I'll make it short."

    "There's a Limey company, as evil as hell,
    They've got a rootkit they're waiting to sell.
    So grab some cash, make it quick,
    There's a half million networks we just gotta fix."

    Now Sony knew the Devil well,
    Why these guys were already half way to Hell.
    So off they went to England fair,
    And bought themselves a rootkit there.

    To protect themselves and their evil scheme,
    They wrote a EULA that would make you scream.
    "No problem," they said, "we can do as we please,
    We're all scummy bastards, so what's some more sleaze?"

    But not all were asleep when they played Van Zant,
    And the racket grew so loud Sony just had to recant.
    "We'll take back all those discs, we really were wrong,
    Oh, and you Mac users, your turn's coming before long."
  • by terrymr (316118) <terrymr@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:19PM (#14067807)
    The best part is that that sony will charge the recall costs against the artists royalties so sony won't be out a penny and the artists get ripped off.
  • by samjam (256347) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:28PM (#14067850) Homepage Journal
    Going forward, we will continue to identify new ways to meet demands for flexibility in how you and other consumers listen to music.

    "meet" means "deny", the problem as Sony see it is that CD's are already too flexible!

    Just as the minister for public safety gets to define where public safety ends, so will Sony meeting demands for flexibility define where that flexibility ends.

    Sam
  • Re:No Cash? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zxnos (813588) <zxnoss@gmail.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:28PM (#14067853)
    looking at the list of artists, unfortunate would be correct... ...;>
  • by size1one (630807) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:28PM (#14067858)
    Sony is just trying to get people to agree to a settlement before they can be found guilty.

    Getting your money back is not enough.
    The bad press sony is feeling is not enough

    I don't doubt that sony will try this again only they will dump money in so it isn't a half assed rootkit. They will make sure the EULA covers all actions and potential damages. A court ruling sets precedent and will deter future attempts. Accept the payoff and you're only taking a step closer to the confined world of DRM.
  • Sony Sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sabre307 (451605) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:28PM (#14067859) Homepage
    Even without the root kit, Sony is being obnoxious with the DRM shit. I got a copy of Chevelle's new album and couldn't even rip it into MP3 without installing some damn proprietary Sony software, and then it would only rip into locked down WMA format. The CD was so screwed up that an older car CD player of mine wouldn't play it, Linux wouldn't recognize it, Windows kept trying to autorun it, but wouldn't recognize the audio side of it. Mac was the only one that would, for some reason, play it just fine. I finally got pissed off and downloaded the whole album via P2P. It was more file sharing than I've done in the last year. Congratulations Sony, now you're going to insent the legitimate people into sharing the files! To me, a CD I can't get into MP3 is useless and defective. I only listen to music on my car stereo in MP3 format, or on my computer in MP3 format, or on my Zen in MP3 format. The original CDs get stored away for safe keeping. I only have two words for Sony... BITE ME!!!
  • MP3 replacements? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imidan (559239) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:40PM (#14067929)
    I'm curious about one aspect of having .mp3 replacements of the defective CDs that you've purchased. TFA says you have to physically return the CD to Sony in order to get access to a set of .mp3 files for that disc. So what becomes of your license? I mean, we've been making a big deal for days now about how your .mp3 files are only legal if you've got the original disc, as well. So, what, are they going to send you some kind of certificate that says you have a right to own these .mp3s? Or how could you possibly prove that your files were legal?

    There's muttering here about digital watermarks or somesuch to uniquely identify each set of .mp3s with a particular customer. But then who has the proof that your files are yours? Sony? I'd feel a lot more comfortable with a new, DRM-less CD that I could rip to my computer, so I'd have proof that I own the CD.

    On another note, the digital watermark doesn't seem like it would be effective. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to send in a real copy of the CD and download the .mp3s using bogus contact information. You UPS a disc to Sony with completely unverifiable and incorrect return information, they email your brand-new Hotmail account with the .mp3 download URL, you get the files on a public terminal, walk away, and never look back. You can share these .mp3s with anyone you want to, and Sony will never be able to identify you as the originator. Though all of that seems like more trouble than it's worth, since you could accomplish the same thing by getting a DRM-less copy of the CD, ripping it, and distributing it.
  • Demographics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Durzel (137902) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:47PM (#14067960) Homepage
    Oddly enough, Sony is offering those who want to return the CDs the chance to download MP3 versions of the discs, but only after Sony has received the returned discs.

    They probably want to determine what percentage of the people who were sufficiently outraged by XCP to go to the trouble of sending back the CD are interested in a MP3 version instead (and therefore the sort of people who would've probably tried circumventing said copy-protection in the first place) vs those who actually had genuine technical issues with it.

    Good market research for them really.
  • by ONOIML8 (23262) on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:23PM (#14068114) Homepage
    If there were any justice in the world, the next step would be an artists revolt.

    If I were one of the artists involved my lawyer would argue something along these lines: Obviously all this negative press will result in fewer of my art being sold. Some number of my fans (regular customers) will no longer trust my work because of this and refrain from future purchases. This is, of course, the fault of Sony. Therefore Sony should pay me the difference. In addition, Sony will immediately consider any contract with me to be null and void because I can no longer count on them to represent me and my work in a respectful manner.

    But I'm betting that the artists themselves don't give a wet slap about this either way.
  • by digitallysick (922589) on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:37PM (#14068167)
    Maybe if the recording industry had to buy overpriced 1 hit wonder cds back from consumers for 20 bux a each, maybe they would think twice about ripping off the public
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:57PM (#14068241)
    Anyone else think that we should start treating Sony and the rest of the RIAA companies more like an organised crime syndicate?

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