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Texas Sues Sony BMG over Rootkit 703

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hate-to-see-sony-boardmeetings dept.
Mr. Sketch writes "According to Yahoo!, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott 'filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Sony BMG Music Entertainment for including "spyware" software on its media player designed to thwart music copying. [...] Texas is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 per violation of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, which was enacted earlier this year. "Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Abbott said in a statement.'"
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Texas Sues Sony BMG over Rootkit

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  • by ZiakII (829432) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:25PM (#14086648)
    Lets also do it the "Texan way" with some Death Penaltys
  • So, um... (Score:5, Funny)

    by brilinux (255400) <(ten.lrra) (ta) (kxq4gk)> on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:26PM (#14086654) Homepage Journal
    Don't mess with Texas?
  • by aldeng (804728) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:27PM (#14086658)
    According to Yahoo!, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott 'filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Sony BMG Music Entertainment for including "spyware" software on its media player designed to thwart music copying. [...] Texas is seeking civil penalties of $2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 * 5 * 5 * 5 * 5 * 5 per violation of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act, which was enacted earlier this year. "Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Abbott said in a statement.
  • Scotch Tape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crabpeople (720852) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:27PM (#14086667) Journal
    Not the only bit of news worth covering on this today. Aparently someone [informationweek.com] found out how to defeat the copy protection with an ordinary piece of tape.

    from the link:

    Sony BMG Music's controversial copy-protection scheme can be defeated with a small piece of tape, a research firm said Monday in a demonstration of the futility of digital rights management (DRM).

    According to Gartner analysts Martin Reynolds and Mike McGuire, Sony's XCP technology is stymied by sticking a fingernail-size piece of opaque tape on the outer edge of the CD.


    Can anyone verify this on their own disks?

    • Re:Scotch Tape (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wizarth (785742) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:34PM (#14086744) Homepage
      I believe it can also be bypassed by holding down the shift key while inserting the CD into the drive (temporarily disabling AutoRun), or by permanately disabling AutoRun.

      Using a bit of tap to do it is just grandstanding.
      • Re:Scotch Tape (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:36PM (#14086751)
        I believe it can also be bypassed by holding down the shift key while inserting the CD into the drive (temporarily disabling AutoRun)

        Congratulations, you just violated the DMCA.

    • Re:Scotch Tape (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Horizon_99 (58767)
      Just hold the shift key when you pop in the cd. Or better yet, disable the windows autorun "feature" [annoyances.org].

      Whoever thought that running unverified code from a cd automatically without warning the user was a good idea should be shot.
      • Re:Scotch Tape (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday November 21, 2005 @09:20PM (#14087418)
        Frankly, even with autorun disabled and my shift key held down, I'm not putting a disc in my Windows box that I know has a ROOTKIT on it! If Microsoft really wants to follow through on their mantra of improved security, they should turn autorun off by default. The minor convenience of running disc-based programs without having to click on them isn't worth the risk. They've had ten years to figure this out and if they had, this rootkit issue wouldn't have been an issue. Matter of fact, it's unlikely Sony would even have bothered. Let's face it ... the real culprit isn't Sony's rootkit: it's AUTORUN. As you say, allowing removable media of unknown pedigree to execute arbitrary code is just stupid, but there you go. Microsoft left a a security hole so big you could drive a bus through it, and someone finally used it. The only surprise is that it was one of the world's biggest consumer electronics / media companies. I feel sorry for all the people that got rooted and screwed over, but with any luck Sony's penance will mirror their own.
        • Re:Scotch Tape (Score:5, Insightful)

          by awkScooby (741257) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:37AM (#14088354)
          Disabling autorun wouldn't have prevented this. Trusted computing wouldn't have prevented this. Not running as Administrator wouldn't have prevented this. The issue is Sony violating people's trust.

          Tons of people got suckered into installing this because they trusted Sony. The CD won't play without Sony's player installed, so most people would have browsed into the CD and found an installer if they had autorun disabled. In a trusted computing world, Sony would have had a valid signature, so their software would have been "trusted" by the OS, so it would install just fine. If it prompted users for their Administrator password, most people would supply it, because it's generally needed to install software. Mark Russinovich even fell prey to this, although he was smart enough to figure out that he had been rooted, and how. The issue certainly isn't about users being too dumb, because Mark is not dumb, it's about companies taking advantage of the implicit trust that comes with their being viewed as a "legitimate" company.

          The trust issue goes much, much deeper, as Bruce Schneier points out on his blog. Where were the anti-virus companies during all of this? Where was Microsoft during all of this? It has the appearance that they were all colluding with Sony. A question that should be asked of each of those companies is "were they in on it, or were they just incompetent?" Either way, it's not encouraging.

  • by meccaneko (844665) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:28PM (#14086670)
    Guess we really neednt worry about the president getting on this band wagon since he cant even load songs on his ipod.
  • by steveshaw (690806) <sjshaw@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:29PM (#14086685)
    which are exceedingly difficult to find in a politician these days.

    Unfortunately, his opponent in the next election can back the Brinks truck up to Sony HQ at his convenience.

  • by scottd18 (593645) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:29PM (#14086687) Homepage
    Here's a link to the official Texas AG's press release.

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagNews/release.php?id= 1266 [state.tx.us]

    They even have an online complaint form. Be the first on your block to get in on the lawsuit!

  • by Harodotus (680139) * on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:30PM (#14086694) Homepage
    IANAL but it seems to me that criminal rather than Civil penalties is the way to go here.

    Of course, the correct answer is both.

    Call me naive, but I'm just not seeing action on the criminal side of things. Whatever happened to "equal protection under the law" principal where I would face jail time if I did this, even if I did it through my own 1-man consulting corporation?
  • Summary: (Score:5, Funny)

    by millennial (830897) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:30PM (#14086695) Journal
    RIAA: "Sony BMG did nothing wrong. We love Sony BMG. They clean our pool."
    Texas Lawyers: "Pardner, yer full o' bull puckey."
    Sony BMG: "Can't you sue any better than that?"
    Consumers: Yeah, you can all go screw yourselves. Give us some cash.
  • by georgewilliamherbert (211790) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:31PM (#14086697)
    ...that it's not just geeks getting upset over this.

    It's a good feeling when it doesn't even take a month for a major state's state government to sue over a consumer issue that has so many people I know riled up. No, it's not just us getting ourselves worked up, it really was that slimy and abusive a thing for Sony to have done.

  • by LeninZhiv (464864) * on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:32PM (#14086706)
    Last week there were complaints here and elsewhere that class-action and criminal prosecutions were slow in coming, with only California and I think New York having responded promptly. This is great news* that this is starting to be prosecuted more widely (as it should be), and encouragement to everyone lobbying elsewhere for lawsuits in their own states/countries.

    [*] Technically it's not "great news", it's simply the just application of the law. But when a mega-corporation such as Sony is the spyware distributer, it doesn't take a cynic to fear that justice come second to capital, as was the case for a certain monopolist...
  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:32PM (#14086708) Journal
    The PDF is available here [state.tx.us]. The press release is here [state.tx.us].

    (cough [slashdot.org] :) )
  • The EFF Suit (Score:4, Informative)

    by kerecsen (807268) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:32PM (#14086710)
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing too. Sony claims that they are unaware of any case where their rootkit caused damages to customers. See details here [internetnews.com].

    If you have been damaged in any way, shape or form, it's time to call their bluff!

    • Re:The EFF Suit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thesandtiger (819476) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:24PM (#14087099)
      Sony claims that they are unaware of any case where their rootkit caused damages to customers.

      Which is irrelevant. If I were to get my rootkit installed on Sony's machines, even if I didn't do any damage, I can't imagine they wouldn't go after me like Star Jones after the last Snackwell.

      The Sony executives responsible for releasing this thing into the wild should get the exact same punishment any other criminal would get for distributing millions of copies of a trojan into the wild. Maybe if that were to happen (dream on!) - maybe if a few corporate execs were put in Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison, forbidden from using a phone or a computer - treated like the criminals they are - people would rethink this crap...

      Nah. They have money. Money > Justice.
      • Re:The EFF Suit (Score:4, Informative)

        by Yartrebo (690383) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:42PM (#14087206)
        Seeing how the US condones prison labor, why not force them to clean up the spyware from every Texas computer that got the stuff while in their Texas-style Super Max prison. Just cleaning up the government computers should take a few life consecutive life terms.

        But you are right. The odds of you going to jail are inversely proportional to your wealth and directly proportional to the blackness of your skin, so they won't be getting any jail time, let alone maximum security or forced labor.
  • Word is Spreading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BigDork1001 (683341) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:32PM (#14086715) Homepage
    One thing I was worried about was that this story would get mostly buried and that word of this would not get out to many people. I've tried explaining the Sony rootkit and DRM in general to a couple co-workers the other day and it didn't go so well. To them it's too technical and so they don't care. Even when I tried to re-explain it less technically they lost interest right away.

    Well today I felt a bit better about the situation. First my wife asked me about it which surprised me. She hasn't shown much interest in stuff like this in the past. And then a little later on when I went over to Stars and Stripes to read todays news they had a story [estripes.com] about the rootkit and that they are pulling them out of the BX/PX's.

    The more word of this gets out the more DRM will come to light. Eventually most people will know how bad DRM is and maybe, just maybe Sony and the rest will start to feel some pressure to stop trying to push it on us.

    • Re:Word is Spreading (Score:5, Informative)

      by paulthomas (685756) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:07PM (#14086997) Journal
      This was someone else's idea here on slashdot, and it works.

      "Sony intentionally infected that CD with DRM. It is infected with DRM. It will take over your computer." I just told this to a friend of mine who is a huge fan of Imogen Heap and was about to buy her recent US release of Speak for Yourself through Sony.

      Sony infected this CD with DRM for the Mac, and maybe Windows, too.

      My friend has spoken with Immi before and is writing her to tell her why, although he supports her and goes to her shows when possible (the hotel/cafe tour for example), he will not be buying the album.

      He will not be buying it because It is INFECTED with DRM.

      Whomever came up with this brilliant strategy, please feel free to take credit in a reply here. I can't find the original comment.
    • It's probably best not to get too carried away... This is an example of a bad DRM implementation. I'm not sure how you extrapolated that to "DRM is bad". That's like claiming computers are bad because one was once used in a crime.

      It's possible your co-workers were losing interest because you were pushing an agenda rather than explaining facts.

      Sony did the wrong thing here by installing a root-kit on their customers PC's, not by using DRM.
    • Re:Word is Spreading (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lothsahn (221388) <Lothsahn@@@SPAM_ ... u_bastardsyahocm> on Monday November 21, 2005 @09:12PM (#14087367)
      People don't know what DRM is, but they DO know what a virus is.

      This isn't EXACTLY a virus, but it's VERY close, so call it that.

      You're not enough of a salesperson. You're trying to be exact and precise about what you say--instead, give them a term they understand that is close to reality.

      "Sony distributed a virus on their CD's in an attempt to break your CD drive so that it cannot copy their CD's. In addition, it opens your computer up so that it can get many other viruses, and it has the ability to report your usage back to Sony at any time."

      That'll sell, and it's true.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:33PM (#14086736) Homepage
    $100,000 per rootkit'd CD times 20,000,000 million CDs [eff.org] = $2,000,000,000,000 (2 trillion dollars)
    • by BigDork1001 (683341) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:36PM (#14086753) Homepage
      Sure, why not? When the RIAA sues people for sharing songs online they sue for a ridiculous amount of money per song. It's only appropriate that they are on the other end of it for a change. $100,000 sounds good to me.
      • by millennial (830897) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:44PM (#14086813) Journal
        Maximum penalty for illegally copying and distributing a single song? $150,000. Maximum penalty for installing security-hole-riddled spyware/malware on a person's computer? $100,000. Number of illegally copied songs on the average college student's PC? Estimated at around 3,000. Number of college students in America? Conservatively estimated at 3,000,000. 3,000,000*3,000*$150,000 = $1,350,000,000,000,000. Number of malware-infested CDs? 20,000,000. 100,000*$20,000,000 = $2,000,000,000,000. Let's see... Sony and co. stand to lose $2 trillion, but earn $1,350 trillion. Maximum. Seems the odds are weighted in their favor.
    • by pegr (46683) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:38PM (#14086770) Homepage Journal
      $100,000 per rootkit'd CD times 20,000,000 million CDs = $2,000,000,000,000 (2 trillion dollars)
       
      (Oblig: pinky to mouth...)
    • by LetterRip (30937) on Monday November 21, 2005 @09:19PM (#14087411)
      [QUOTE]$100,000 per rootkit'd CD times 20,000,000 million CDs = $2,000,000,000,000 (2 trillion dollars)[/QUOTE]

      Someone at Arstechnica pointed out that 'per incidence' meant the creation of the master CD, so however many different master CDs had been created with it installed would be the liability number. I think it 16 or so CDs. So 1.6 million.
  • by k00110 (932544) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:44PM (#14086816)
    In Canada, the levy allows you to make copy of music CDs, even your friends CDs for you own personnal use without restriction. The 3 limit per CD is a clear restriction that goes against what Canadians pay for. I feel another law suit comming.
  • by Chaffar (670874) on Monday November 21, 2005 @07:50PM (#14086859)
    "The MediaMax software also installs files on users' computers even if they decline to accept SunnComm's terms in a licensing agreement. That software allows the company to track customers' listening habits despite denials the company collects such data."

    So basically, the rootkit would install itself on your PC even if you clicked NO on the popup that appears after inserting the disk? Wow... Now re-read this (different article, posted on Slashdot earlier):

    "Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?" the head of Sony BMG's global digital business, Thomas Hesse, told National Public Radio.

    I don't know... So they are counting on tricking gullible PC users into installing something which will ultimately harm their PC, which is heinous in itself, but somewhat legally "murky" enough for them to get away with it. But when your answer to the EULA actually has no effect whatsoever on whether the r00tkit is installed or not, that is beyond words. It shows how much these corporations disrespect their customers. We are sheep. With cash they gave us for working for them... and they want it back.

    • by yeremein (678037) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:20PM (#14087079)
      "The MediaMax software also installs files on users' computers even if they decline to accept SunnComm's terms in a licensing agreement. That software allows the company to track customers' listening habits despite denials the company collects such data."

      So basically, the rootkit would install itself on your PC even if you clicked NO on the popup that appears after inserting the disk? Wow...


      No, this sentence refers to SunnComm MediaMax, not First4Internet XCP. MediaMax doesn't use a rootkit, but installs even if you reject the EULA, phones home when you play a CD, does not include a functioning uninstaller--but if you jump through a bunch of hoops, SunnComm will give you an ActiveX uninstaller that opens a huge security hole on your computer, kind of like XCP's.

      Sony recalled XCP CDs but didn't say a word about MediaMax. The EFF is pressuring them to recall those CDs as well, which have been on the market for two years and number at least ten times as many as XCP.
    • Let's stab him in some of the lesser-known organs.
      Since he doesn't know what they do, he shouldn't really care about it, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:03PM (#14086959)
    Have any companies disallowed playing CD's at work computers because of potential security risks? Can someone be fired for unknowing installing rootkits and can fired employees sue the music distributors for costing them their jobs?
  • by eddy (18759) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:04PM (#14086971) Homepage Journal

    I heard Sony management got a great deal on this book: Rootkits : Subverting the Windows Kernel [amazon.com].

    Buy this book with 'Microsoft Windows Internals, Fourth Edition...' by Mark E. Russinovich today!

    That recommendation is just... the glazing on the pig

  • Sweet. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:07PM (#14086998)
    I hope the Texas Attorney General extracts hundreds of millions from Sony. And then that the other states' attorneys general smell blood and jump on the bandwagon, just like the tobacco settlement. Imagine Sony forced to fund a foundation that makes commercials warning youth of the dangers of DRM :).
  • by deadfly (39238) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:12PM (#14087029)
    If some college student had pulled this stunt they would be sitting in jail as we speak. Why is Sony getting away with this crap? I also can't believe that they stole code from LAME and violated the LGPL without a second thought. These people are criminals in every sense equally as bad as those they are trying to keep from copying their CDs.

    I will never, never ever buy another product that says SONY on it again.
    • by jeff4747 (256583) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:46PM (#14087235)
      Why is Sony getting away with this crap?

      Because Sony isn't a person. You can't throw Sony in jail for 3 to 5. What you can do is fine the hell out of them, which is basically what this lawsuit is.

      You could try and go after Sony's exectuives for signing off on this, but that's gonna be very hard to do. Especially since they will set up some mid-level fall guy as the one who made the decision instead of the senior execs who actually made the decision.

      It's vastly easier to prove Sony as a company did this, instead of proving that specific individuals at Sony did this.

      • While Sony is not a person, they are still liable. And there is an interesting twist in copyright law. IANAL, but I recall that the CEO can be held personally responsible for copyright infridgement of the company (that was in some recent /. article about copyright).

        If the copyright-holder(s) of LAME and whatever other product they stole from actually files charges, then they are in really deep sh*t. Bringing a civil suit against Sony for copyright infridgement (and - as it seems to be industry standard - as
    • by syukton (256348) on Monday November 21, 2005 @09:35PM (#14087480)
      That they stole code from LAME and violated the LGPL got like one minute of news airtime before falling into the background. That really isn't important to the average person, which is really a damn shame. I would expect that part to be more important or at least more-covered in the media.

      (although since they contracted out the creation of the program, they arguably didn't steal code from LAME but rather encouraged another company to do so. That's really for a lawyer or ten and a judge to decipher...)

      • by Brobock (226116) on Monday November 21, 2005 @11:36PM (#14087944) Homepage
        That they stole code from LAME and violated the LGPL got like one minute of news airtime before falling into the background. That really isn't important to the average person, which is really a damn shame. I would expect that part to be more important or at least more-covered in the media.

        NPR Covered the story which pleased me. They started it off like this:

        "Today's vocabulary word is 2 words: ROOT KIT"

        A decent 5 minute segment on it.
    • They aren't. You can't put a corporation in jail. Plus, no one will ever know who made the final "ok" on putting the rootkit in (probably). The best we can do is fine them astronomical sums of money, and set the precident that this kind of thing will not be tollerated. Even though what Sony did was bad, I think it woke the government up to the slow invasion of record companies into how we use our music, which should help in the long run.
  • Last Post? (Score:3, Funny)

    by afaik_ianal (918433) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:30PM (#14087139)
    Come on - everyone stop posting for a bit...
  • The charges (Score:5, Informative)

    by yeremein (678037) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:35PM (#14087171)
    The complaint [state.tx.us] is actually quite short. I only see two specific charges:
    • Using random or deceptive filenames to make it difficult for the consumer to find and uninstall the program, in violation of CPACSA 48.053(5).
    • Inducing the consumer to install software by falsely claiming that it is necessary to play the media, in violation of CPACSA 48.055(1).
    Seems pretty weak, but I imagine they'll tack on additional charges once they've had the chance to do some discovery.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:35PM (#14087172)
    How the *fuck* did they ever conclude that installing a rootkit on their "enhanced" CDs was a financially sound legal tactic that came with no fear of being sued by Sony shareholders for causing loss of profit?
  • by cmacb (547347) on Monday November 21, 2005 @09:22PM (#14087425) Homepage Journal
    I had sent a friend information about this Sony [sonybmg.com] thing last week and it got not a lot of attention. However same friend was trying to de-lous another persons PC yesterday and called me for support (Note: I'm not particularly qualified for Windows support at this point, but I can do Google searches and say things like "hang in there" from time to time). I think by that time I was called many of the virus and spyware elements had been cleaned by conventional means, but there seemed to be some persistent problems. Just in case, I asked whether they had played any of those Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] music discs in the machine. Apparently I was on a speakerphone setup, and I heard several denials of the form "We never use our machine for such things" while my friend asked me what I was talking about.

    After refreshing his memory, and in turn having the family involved talk among themselves for a while, it turned out that some Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] discs HAD been played in that machine, and some of the remaining questionable files had Sony all over them even though the family didn't own a Sony [sonybmg.com] camera, Sony music player or any other Sony device that they could think of. Finally someone remembered that the little girl in the family HAD played, or ripped, or SOMETHING some music CDs in the machine and off they rushed to find them. In the mean time I was looking for the list [sonybmg.com] of Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] discs affected, originally numbered 20 and widely circulated at that count, but subsequently updated to 50, and listed [sonybmg.com] on a Sony website. I found the list of 50 at about the same time that they found their played/ripped/inserted/whatever CDs and sure enough, several of them had the Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] label on them. Now the catch was that (a) none of the CDs they had found were on the list [sonybmg.com] and (b) none of the CDs they had found had the warning that they contained copyright protection software, and my understanding was that the affected discs did contain such a warning.

    Well, by getting rid of the Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] stuff they seemed to be back to a clean machine, and they swore to never insert a music CD into their machine again or to buy a CD from Sony [sonybmg.com]. So, congratulations should go out to Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] and First4Internet [first4internet.com] for accomplishing their objectives. Now to round out the picture:

    (1) I suspect that Sony BMG [sonybmg.com], Sony [sonybmg.com] alone, and BMG [sonybmg.com] alone have in the past used other protection schemes and while they haven't been vocal about it, other companies are doing the same experimentation. All of these programs have their own ways and means of hiding themselves and controlling what YOU do with YOUR PC. But NONE of them have exhaustively looked into the legal, much less technical ramifications of what they do. They think that by merely relying on third party companies like First4Internet [first4internet.com] they can claim ignorance of the consequences.

    (2) Rumor has it that by the time you are asked for your permission to install software when you insert these disks SOME software has already been installed.

    (3) Sony/BMG [sonybmg.com] isn't the only company doing this, they are just the only company that has been caught.

    (4) These discs have been out for a year, and some people say two years, or maybe more.

    (5) There is no quick and easy way to uninstall these programs, either from Sony BMG [sonybmg.com] or the s
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday November 21, 2005 @09:32PM (#14087468)
    The proper punishment for Sony out of this must be sufficient that that Sony, and every other record company will absolutely never any use any kind of DRM that changes even one bit on your computer again. Anything less is not enough.
  • by NeuroManson (214835) on Monday November 21, 2005 @10:10PM (#14087629) Homepage
    Sony changed their name to "Sorry", and were promptly sued by Parker Brothers.
  • This is crap.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sigmund Dali (925077) on Monday November 21, 2005 @11:33PM (#14087926)
    When I read the submission, I knew that the first 50 posts or so would probably involve a hick accent and killing people. What I didn't expect was the fact that NOBODY would say anything about that characterization.

    Look, Texas has hick parts. There's strong concentrations of them in East Texas around the Louisiana border and also in West Texas starting from Abilene west and north. But, it is unfair to characterize this entire state as being uncultured cowboy gun slingers, nor is it fair to generalize people who live in the more rural parts as hicks. This state is as cultured as any others, and when it comes to the South, we stand far and above. We have the largest and one of the most prestigious university systems in the world, we represent one of the most diverse cultural melting pots in the country, we have probably the best music and independent film communities outside of New York and LA, and the list goes on.

    What disturbs me most is that not one person from Texas wants to dispute any of that bullshit the rest of these comments are flinging about. And it's not that there aren't Texan /. readers. Austin is part of the San Francisco - Seattle - Austin Axis of Technology. Screw the rest of you guys.

    As far as the AG sueing Sony, hats off to him. It's not exactly a secret that this state is pretty damn laissez-faire. That was a damn impressive move.


    Also, by the way, you know that Texan accent that you have been using mentally to read this post? Stop that... now.

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