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Sony Sues Rootkit Maker 334

Posted by kdawson
from the still-trying-to-recover dept.
flyboy974 writes "Sony BMG Music Entertainment is suing the company that developed anti-piracy software for its CDs, claiming the technology was defective and cost the record company millions of dollars to settle consumer complaints and government investigations. The software in question is the MediaMax CD protection system, widely derided as a rootkit. Sony BMG is seeking to recover some $12 million in damages from the Phoenix-based technology company, according to court papers filed July 3."
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Sony Sues Rootkit Maker

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  • by trudyscousin (258684) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @09:37AM (#19837055)
    The rootkit software was developed by First 4 Internet (now called Fortium Technologies). I suppose that an inability to sue straight can now be added to Sony BMG's portfolio of stupidity and arrogance. I hope SunnComm (now called The Amergence Group), as despicable as its own efforts were, totally owns Sony BMG.

    With all these name changes, I wonder when Macrovision is going to change theirs?
  • by jjeffrey (558890) * <slash@jamesjeffrey.co . u k> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @09:38AM (#19837071) Homepage
    I'd be prepared to put money on Sony losing this case. I'm sure we've all seen this sort of thing before. Media Max will have warned Sony that the approach had problems, they will have a mail chain demonstrating that, but Sony's management will have bullishly insisted on the security features it offered while ignoring or not bothering to understand the warnings it contained about the risks. What are the chances even their own technical advisors internally warned against it?
  • Worms. vs Birds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neoshroom (324937) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @09:42AM (#19837137)
    New York-based Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, declined to elaborate on the suit. Sony BMG is home to names such as Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood and Modest Mouse.

    Modest Mouse
    Worms. vs Birds


    Self pity me, it's so pitiful
    You can see that birds and worms don't get along
    Self-righteous me, it's so wrong and
    You can see that we don't have to get along
    Self pity me, it's so pitifull
    You can see that birds and worms do not agree
    And we will crawl
    (Will crawl)
  • Blood Suckers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @09:44AM (#19837153)

    Last fall, the company agreed to pay a total of $5.75 million to settle the litigation and resolve investigations by officials in several states.

    Sony BMG is seeking to recover some $12 million in damages from the Phoenix-based technology company, according to court papers filed July 3.
    $12 million > $5.75 million

    Will the real victims here (the customers) see this extra cash?

    The Sony Corporation
    Making cash off of their customer misfortunes since 1946
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @09:45AM (#19837181) Homepage
    Let me be the first to say that this is completely stupid. Nobody forced Sony to put that software on the CDs, and I wouldn't doubt that Sony knew exactly what they were doing when they put that software on the CDs. If they didn't, well then, it's their own fault. Having them pass the blame on to the company that made this software just make me hate Sony even more. Sony has done so many braindead things in the past couple of years that it's no wonder that Nintendo stock rose above theirs, if only for a short while. From rootkits, to $600+ consoles, to sueing the people who sold them the rootkit, I just can't imagine what they'll do next.

    Disclaimer: I'm not saying I hate them because they released a $600+ console ( + because it's even more expensive once you buy a game and a second controller) but what I'm saying is that it's a really boneheaded idea, and I don't know how they ever thought it would have mass appeal, no matter how good the graphics are.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @09:53AM (#19837265) Homepage
    Step 5. Make sure your Killzone 2 E3 trailer very closely matches the 2005 CGI trailer.

    In all seriousness though, if you pay someone to write you some software and it fucks up, whose fault is it? Theirs for not testing it, or yours for not testing it again?

    Maybe we'll see another article in a couple of days:

    Rootkit Maker sues QA company...
  • by Micah (278) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:28AM (#19837621) Homepage Journal
    Just a question I've been wanting to ask for a while. How much has this whole rootkit debacle caused you to avoid Sony products?

    Shortly after it happened, I promised myself I would buy nothing with a Sony brand for at least a year. To my knowledge, I complied with that (though they do have tentacles in more things than you think, so who knows). I figured I need to end the boycott after a year, or else there wouldn't be any incentive for them to change anyway. I still haven't bought anything major from Sony -- the very name SONY screams to me "infected millions of PCs with rootkits, and tries to take away my Freedom!" But enough time has passed that I would probably consider buying a Sony product if it really were the right one for me.

    How about you?
  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:15AM (#19838171) Journal
    One of Sony's claims is that it was not delivered to specifications.

    They should have said that a year ago. And bent over backward to fix the problem. Instead, you may recall, one of their public statements was to shrug it off and say "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is." As if somehow that was the salient point.

    I can't understand how anybody who does understand what they did would ever do business with them again, just as a matter of principle.

  • by BForrester (946915) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:16AM (#19838187)
    I'd be prepared to put money that Sony knows it will lose, but doesn't care. If this action is for PR purposes -- and I assume it is -- Sony will accomplish its purpose regardless of the outcome.

    Major lawsuits are big news. The convoluted and complicated resolutions of those lawsuits are much less interesting for the general public. For example, everyone knows that Microsoft has been tied up in various litigation in various countries for the past decade, but the average citizen has no idea how these cases have turned out.

    The end result is that the average electronics consumer will learn from the media that:

    1 - Sony produced bad technology that hurt customers
    2 - Sony is suing the bad people responsible for this
    3 - The court's decision on the matter is hidden in a 20 word article on page 47 of the weekend edition.
  • Illogical (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jerim (872022) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:19AM (#19838229)
    Wait, so Sony contracts with a company to put rootkits on its cd's. Then when Sony gets caught in a public relations backlash, they blame the company that supplied the rootkit? That is like a drug user blaming his drug dealer for selling him the drugs the cops caught him with. Corporate responsibility just died.
  • by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:23AM (#19838293)
    Only one slight nitpick - hampering DRM isn't about reducing the effectiveness of copyright. Its about preventing distributors from overstepping the rights they have with copyright, and taking rights away from recipients of the distributed materials that copyright says they are allowed to have.
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:34AM (#19838475) Homepage
    The results of the class action lawsuit against Sony was that you could either get $7.50 and download an album or download 3 albums. Like every class action lawsuit I've ever been a part of from Sony all the way back to when Kodak brought out their own version of a Polaroid-style camera, the only people that ever benefit are the lawyers. The rest of us just get coupons for more crap from the company that caused the problem in the first place.

    If there is any justice then Sony will just get a coupon for more rootkits from the company and not any actual money.
  • by ohearn (969704) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:37AM (#19838521)
    Of course they are the least likely company to do something like this again. After this lawsuit anyone that Sony tries to contract to write the software again would be a fool to take the job. Do you really want to go contract work for someone who has a history of suing its contractors?
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:13PM (#19838987) Journal
    Well, there're a couple other factors, one would be whether Amergence represented the rootkit as being completely legal. Another would be the fact that it contained GPL code without attribution and release of the source code, opening Sony up to copyright violation suits.

    I agree with you, this does not let Sony off the hook -- however, there may be culpability at Amergence as well, and I would like that to be determined and consequences levied. What I would really like to see is Sony being fined an additional amount equal to whatever they are awarded (if anything) as a result of this suit, so that everyone gets punished.
  • by reiley (1032936) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:29PM (#19839217)
    I think the PR DOES hurt in this case. They should be trying to let people forget that they ever distributed root kits at all
  • Re:I'm confused (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Homr Zodyssey (905161) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @01:05PM (#19839667) Journal

    I got my first iPod for Christmas '06, so I've been playing with iTunes for about 7 months now. I concur with everything riceboy50 just said, and it was exactly what I was thinking as I read networkBoy's post.

    I dislike iTunes for other reasons. It seems to be a resource-hog. It installs background processes that are always running. Its yet another program that adds "qttask" to my startup programs. It's covered with annoying ads, and makes poor use of screen real-estate.

    That being said, I'd like to paraphrase Winston Churchill. iTunes is the worst iPod/podcatcher/jukebox software for Windows except all the others that I've tried. I would actually be most grateful if someone could point me to an open-source alternative that actually works (unlike Floola).

  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:08PM (#19840607) Journal
    To not do business with them again is certainly your prerogative, but seems awfully short-sighted. My guess is that, at this point, Sony is the LEAST likely company to ever try something like a rootkit again

    The point of doing it because of principle is not because of future behavior. Having principles is important. It makes one a better person. I don't do it for Sony, I do it for myself.

  • I, for one ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:35PM (#19841657)
    I hope that Sony wins.

    Why? Well, it sure as hell isn't because I like Sony or believe in their case.

    Rather, I'd like people to see making DRM as a risky business. Because, as we know, all DRM systems eventually fail, no DRM company would ever want to be on the hook for its failure. So if they can be held liable for that failure, making DRM will become a path to certain financial ruin.

    Because those people are only in it to make money, that should help kill the market for DRM. And that, frankly, is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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