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Rick Rubin Discloses Sony Rootkit Called Home 249

Posted by kdawson
from the curiouser-and-curiouser dept.
caffeinemessiah writes "Rick Rubin, the legendary music producer, recently signed on as co-head of Columbia Records, which is owned by Sony BMG. In a recent New York Times interview (on pg. 4 of the online version), he discloses, possibly accidentally: 'It was the highest debut of Neil [Diamond]'s career, off to a great start. But Columbia — it was some kind of corporate thing — had put spyware on the CD. That kept people from copying it, but it also somehow recorded information about whoever bought the record...' Seems like the rootkit might have been a little more than your vanilla invade-your-rights-DRM scheme."
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Rick Rubin Discloses Sony Rootkit Called Home

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  • A simpler solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:54PM (#20457621) Journal
    Maybe it didn't phone home, and Rick Rubin (a music producer, not a computer geek) just doesn't understand what the root kit did.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:06PM (#20457771)
      No, he's correct. You're wrong.

      http://games.slashdot.org/games/05/11/07/1221209.s html [slashdot.org]

      Sony Rootkit Phones Home

      strider44 writes "Mark from Sysinternals has digged a little deeper into the Sony DRM and discovered it Phones Home with an ID for the CD being listened to. XCP Support claims that "The player has a standard rotating banner that connects the user to additional content (e.g. provides a link to the artist web site). The player simply looks online to see if another banner is available for rotation. The communication is one-way in that a banner is simply retrieved from the server if available. No information is ever fed back or collected about the consumer or their activities."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by catbutt (469582)
        Well then how is he correct? Rubin said "it also somehow recorded information about whoever bought the record." and your quote says "No information is ever fed back or collected about the consumer or their activities."

        BTW, i just read an article about Rubin (was it linked here yesterday?) that said he had never heard of Simon Cowell from American Idol up till last year or whatever. Now...not saying that Simon Cowell is anything great, but for a top record producer to have never heard of someone that f
        • Uh dude... you think a webserver doesn't log what "banner" you downloaded? Is it that hard to conceive that maybe even a log scanner or even apache module is on the server side, using the "retrieval" to amass a database of what people are listening to?
        • You misread the comment. What you have quoted is the *claims* from Sony, but those claims were proven to be untrue.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by shaggy43 (21472)
          I had never heard of Simon Cowell before 'idol', nor had my father, and he's a gold-and-platinum-record-holding sound engineer and record producer *from England also*.

          Just because you *might* have doesn't mean the industry has...
        • by h3llfish (663057)
          Now...not saying that Simon Cowell is anything great, but for a top record producer to have never heard of someone that familiar to everyone else...that's just weird.

          So you point that out why? Are you trying to imply that Rick Rubin is out of touch with popular culture? Surely not, because that would be totally asinine. Rick Rubin practically invented popular culture one day in 1985 when he said to Run-DMC "Hey, I think you guys should cover this old Aerosmith song...". The rest, as they say, is hist
        • BTW, i just read an article about Rubin (was it linked here yesterday?) that said he had never heard of Simon Cowell from American Idol up till last year or whatever. Now...not saying that Simon Cowell is anything great, but for a top record producer to have never heard of someone that familiar to everyone else...
          If I could only be so lucky :(
        • by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:40AM (#20460823) Homepage

          BTW, i just read an article about Rubin (was it linked here yesterday?) that said he had never heard of Simon Cowell from American Idol up till last year or whatever. Now...not saying that Simon Cowell is anything great, but for a top record producer to have never heard of someone that familiar to everyone else...that's just weird.

          Rick Rubin not hearing about Simon Cowell is about the same as the chef de cuisine at a French restaurant not knowing what McDonald's is.
        • by MrHanky (141717)
          No, that's not weird, that's cool. Knowledge about minor (and unimportant) celebrities isn't needed for anything except gossiping with people who don't have any useful knowledge. Not knowing Simon Cowell means Rubin meets more interesting people, and that he doesn't surf the internet aimlessly or read crap newspapers.
    • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:08PM (#20457797)
      I don't know, he might know plenty about systems. RJR and RMS are practically twins. [google.com]
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:15PM (#20457857)

      Maybe it didn't phone home, and Rick Rubin (a music producer, not a computer geek) just doesn't understand what the root kit did.
      Have you seen the way Rick Rubin looks? He could have easily fallen out of Richard Stallman's beard. When someone who looks like that tells me something, I listen. Or tell him I don't have any spare change; I guess it depends on what he says.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe, maybe not. One thing that I am certain of, however, is that RR is a dirtbag. Proof?

      How about evidence instead? Besides simply being in the music industry. When the Black Crowes (formerly Mr. Crow's Garden) were making their debut album, the oh-so-clever NYC sophisticate RR kept insisting that they change their name to the Kobb Kounty Krowes, an unsubtle jab at Cobb county and the boys' southern heritage.

      Yeah, so he'd make millions from the controversy of an Suthren [sic] artist with the initials 'KKK
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Here's the thing, RR has been involved in creating some of the most innovative and exciting music of the past 25 years. The Black Crows is basically a secondrate coverband.
        • by ystar (898731)
          Rubin produced both Californication and By The Way. I liked BSSM, but those two chili peppers albums were among the most amazing pieces of art I've ever heard. He claims to not have a very deep sense of music however, which I believe...he's worked with some less than stellar artists and the output has been less than stellar as well.

          My impression is that he's a bit of a life coach. He helped clean up the Peppers (though John Frusciante and the others were moving towards a cleaner lifestyle during that era al
      • Translation: I'm a no-life shit who likes to go on online forums, make up scandalous stories about people I have never and will never meet.

        Believe my fake ancedotal story!
      • by Potor (658520)
        That KKK thing could be true, no idea. But he also signed Run DMC and Public Enemy.
    • just doesn't understand what the root kit did.

      Actualy he did. After the fluf introduction on the first 2-3 pages he gets into the meat of the scandal on pages 4-6. He speaks of the Neil Diamond album and how the DRM Rootkit affected sales and how he made no bones about calling it a disaster. Part if his influence with record distributers is that that never happen to an artists work again.
      • By the time Barnett first approached Rubin about coming to Columbia, Rubin had already decided that he would have nothing more to do with Columbia Records. This was because of the company's handling of the Rubin-produced Neil Diamond record "12 Songs" in 2005. Diamond was a hero of Rubin's, and he spent two years working on the album, persuading Diamond to record acoustically, something he hadn't done since the '60s.

        "The CD debuted at No. 4," Rubin told me at Hugo's, still sounding upset. "It was the highes
  • by Darundal (891860) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:55PM (#20457633) Journal
    ...Bravias have rootkits! Honestly, at this point, I think non-rootkit news about sony would be front page worthy. At this point, it is just expected.
  • by l2718 (514756) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:55PM (#20457635)
    The analysis of the trojan already showed that it phoned home. Of course the point of this was to gather data.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And again, I must ask... why wasn't anyone ARRESTED for this? If an individual had created and distributed such a program, he would be imprisoned for years and the 6 o'clock news would run a half a dozen segments along the lines of "Special Report : OMG TEH HACKERS CAN STEAL YOUR HARD DRIVE!". Why doesn't anyone care when a corporation does it?
      • by mpe (36238) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:33AM (#20460757)
        And again, I must ask... why wasn't anyone ARRESTED for this? If an individual had created and distributed such a program, he would be imprisoned for years and the 6 o'clock news would run a half a dozen segments along the lines of "Special Report : OMG TEH HACKERS CAN STEAL YOUR HARD DRIVE!". Why doesn't anyone care when a corporation does it?

        There is a distinct lack of prisons for "corporate people". Indeed the whole "corporations are people" meme just falls apart when it comes to criminal (as opposed to civil) law.
        It also dosn't help when the concept of "limited liability", something which was only intended to be relevent to a bankrupt company, is instead treated as a shield for the activities of what amount to criminal gangs.
      • by WNight (23683) *
        Check this out: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID= /20070829/LOCAL/708290511 [indystar.com]

        Cop goes joy-riding with three girls in the car, gets in an accident, tells them to flee the scene, lies to superiors, contradicts witnesses, etc.

        He *may* get fired.

        If you did half of that you'd still be in prison in ten years.
  • by Spy der Mann (805235) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:55PM (#20457641) Homepage Journal
    I guess this is their "We can't afford watermarking all the CD's music, but we'll steal the buyer's identity instead" solution.
  • Dup (Score:5, Informative)

    by astrosmash (3561) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:00PM (#20457705) Journal
    There's an interesting discussion on the same topic over here [slashdot.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:13PM (#20457841)
    Oh, one, touching one, reaching out
    Touching me, touching you...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oh, one, touching one, reaching out
      Touching me, touching you...


      Sweeeeet Dee Arr Emm
      Rootkit really got me good...
      I'm too naive,
      To think that Sony never would
      Oh, no, no..

  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:13PM (#20457843)
    The number of people who own a computer, are technically smart enough to listen to music on it, and who listen to Neil Diamond, is zero.
    • by Detritus (11846) on Monday September 03, 2007 @09:11PM (#20458287) Homepage
      Neil Diamond has more talent in his big toe than most of the artists that get airplay on American commercial radio. I'm not a fan of his style of music, but he is an excellent singer and songwriter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PeelBoy (34769)
        I agree. Neiel Diamond is one of the great American singer / Song Writers.

        One of the best in the world.
    • by Swampash (1131503)
      You are wrong by at least 1. I have a lot of Neil Diamond in my digital music collection.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283)
      The number of people who own a computer, are technically smart enough to listen to music on it, and who listen to Neil Diamond, is zero.

      If that were true, than this whole rootkit discussion would be a non-issue as absolutely nobody would have even found the software at all. The technicaly smart people who listen to Neil Diamond is the ones who blew the cover of this DRM.
  • And yet (Score:3, Funny)

    by obeythefist (719316) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:15PM (#20457853) Journal
    And yet Sony has walked away with less than a slap on the wrist.

    Replace "Sony" with "Al Queda" or "North Korea" in the same story and see how it reads. Amusing, isn't it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Neil Diamond is working for the Koreans? That's not amusing at all. The terrorists have won.
    • Re:And yet (Score:4, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:45PM (#20459065) Homepage Journal

      And yet Sony has walked away with less than a slap on the wrist.

      Replace "Sony" with "Al Queda" or "North Korea" in the same story and see how it reads. Amusing, isn't it?
      Now now, don't be silly. Al Quaeda and NK are nowhere near as powerful as Sony ;-)
  • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:27PM (#20457957)
    Now that Sony knows the true identities of all the Neil Diamond fans, they can now complete their deathstar and will be the ultimate power in the universe!
    • by ross.w (87751)
      What, both of the surviving ones?

      I kid, I know Neil Diamond still has a huge following, but never let the truth get in the way of a good joke...
  • by yusing (216625) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:28PM (#20457961) Journal
    If they want him to "save the record business", the first thing they better do is lose the RIAA, and stop manufacturing that huge steaming pile of bad will.

    The industry's refusal to get into digital sales online was criminally stupid. Everyone told them that, and they just dug in. They're a brontosaurus standing on its head.

    We now know how they always worked; the truth is out there. You can feel it all over. If we ever did, we don't *need* them any more. We don't like them any more, and we don't like the homogenizing and genericizing of the sound. Artists need them for one thing only: marketing.Since they've been worse than useless for decades, they'll need a lot of re-org and a lot of giveaways and a lot of goodwill-mending to survive.

    I don't think they can; I hope they can't. Good riddance. I haven't bought a new RIAA product in five years; I won't pay $20 for a record I bought 20 years ago either. Personally I'll smile every time one of them buys it. They had their chance, and they gave us the finger.

    • Columbia had better get in line - Rubin is currently focused on saving Metallica!
      • Saving Columbia could be a good thing. Frankly, I think anyone that helps save Metallica ought to be charged with nuisance and forced to listen to their crap at 500 decibels.
    • by arkham6 (24514) on Monday September 03, 2007 @09:40PM (#20458583)
      Bad will? Bad will? What bad will. You walk into any music store and ask a random person buying CD's if they like or dislike the RIAA, they are going to look at you blankly.

      Ask them what they think about the lawsuits being filed daily by the RIAA, and they will shrug and say "Yeah? So, i'm not getting sued, i don't care."

      Ask them if they are upset that there is a rootkit in that CD they are holding, the would probably not understand the ramifications.

      Face it, the American people care for their rights, up into the moment choosing between those rights and getting the newest, shiney toy.
      • by migurski (545146)

        Bad will? Bad will? What bad will. You walk into any music store and ask a random person buying CD's if they like or dislike the RIAA, they are going to look at you blankly.

        Walk into any music store, and all you'll see is the leftover rubes who haven't yet figured out how to operate bittorrent or itunes. Of course they'll stare at you blankly.

      • by Illserve (56215)
        Face it, the American people care for their rights, up into the moment choosing between those rights and getting the newest, shiney toy.

        I know it's trendy to bash Americans these days but this isn't the place.

        Your experiment would have the same results in just about any record store.
    • If they want him to "save the record business", the first thing they better do is lose the RIAA
      That is either some super deep koan zen shit, or you just don't realize that the RIAA is the music business. The RIAA are the proverbial "they" who want him to save their biz.
    • Regarding 'saving the record business', Rubin says this rather insightful piece:

      Rubin sees no other solution. "Either all the record companies will get together or the industry will fall apart and someone like Microsoft will come in and buy one of the companies at wholesale and do what needs to be done," he said. "The future technology companies will either wait for the record companies to smarten up, or they'll let them sink until they can buy them for 10 cents on the dollar and own the whole thing."

      He i

  • Spyware != Rootkit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SoapBox17 (1020345) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:31PM (#20457997) Homepage
    This shouldn't be a hard concept here on slashdot, but the article is talking about some type of "spyware" that tracks people who own the CD. This is distinctly different from a rootkit.
    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
      Its distinction is that it is spyware being hidden within a rootkit. It is both a rootkit and spyware, this isn't an either-or situation.
  • It was only recently that I got a flamebait rating for being humorous and saying Rick Rubin is the music industry new messiah ...... so everyone bow down to him and buy what he says to buy.

    He promoted to know all even before he reads the long running comments made by consumers....

  • Has anyone at Sony done gaol time yet? If not, why not?
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:40PM (#20458067)
    So he's a music producer, but somehow knows about the inner workings of the rootkit, and he discloses something that NOBODY else figured out about the rootkit? Amazing.

    Or, he's talking out of his ass.
    • by Durrok (912509)
      He probably just read a few news articles about it since it pertained to him. Those news articles may have been talking out of their ass, but it's refreshing to see that he at least is trying to keep up with current events.
    • He works inside Sony.

      Perhaps someone inside Sony who actually knows about it said something to him?

      Or, he's talking out his ass. But then, so are you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blackest_k (761565)
      I don't think you can reasonably expect Mr rubin or a reporter to have much of a clue about rootkits.

      "it was some kind of corporate thing -- had put spyware on the CD. That kept people from copying it, but it also somehow recorded information about whoever bought the record. The spyware became public knowledge, and people freaked out. There were some lawsuits filed, and the CD was recalled by Columbia"

      Is what he said as written in the article.

      He's angry and bitter coz something was put on the CD that caused
  • by hondo77 (324058) on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:42PM (#20459047) Homepage

    Then I read this quote: ""You would subscribe to music...You'd pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you'd like. In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home.

    Yes, the iPod will be obsolete. Just ask Napster...or Yahoo...or Microsoft. Sigh.

    • by Phroggy (441)

      The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device...
      Wow. Sony sure wants to spread FUD.

      When he says a "Walkman-like device" he really means "something made by Sony and not by Apple." He doesn't mean "something more similar to a Walkman than to an iPod."
    • Maybe he does "get it". Instead of having a library in a fixed location (your iPod), you have a physical token that provides instant access to your centrally (online) stored library. Instead of having to pick the 8gb of songs/audiobooks/videos that you want to carry with you, all you ever have to carry is your token and when you plug it into an enabled theatre system you instantly have access to everything you've purchased (or everything accessible to your subscription tier, since he's talking about subsc
    • I'm not sure you fully understand the ramifications of your quote.

      It seems to me that if a "legendary music producer" seems to be discussing the notion of what essentially amounts to a library "subscription service" for music, perhaps we ought to listen? It doesn't seem all that far-fetched that this could be the ultimate end-game of the RIAA after all. Strip the individual's freedom to copy and listen to music they have purchased, and what are you left with? If legislation comes about that effectively outl
      • by tkrotchko (124118) *
        I saw those same comments and I'm surprised nobody picked up on it.

        The record companies have concluded the only way to do business is essentially through getting rid of music that you "own". All music will be streamed to you via industry approved devices and if you want it, you have to pay your $20/month. What a deal.... for the record companies.

        This does two things... it guarantees them a stream of money for essentially doing nothing, and it locks small artists and labels out of the distribution channels
  • Where is my right to privacy codified in law?

    Here in the US I do see that I have some rights: right to religion, right to free speech, right to establish a militia(nobody is certain if that is an individual right or a state right), right to refuse to quarter soldiers, protection from warrentless searches, right to a "fair" and speedy trial, protection from excessive punishment, right to own property, right to not be enslaved or indentured, right to petition the government, right to vote.

    There seems to be on
    • by mosch (204)
      The world would be much better if people routinely asked 'what actions are ethically correct?' instead of stopping at 'are my proposed actions currently illegal in this country?'

      It's often true that a damaging, dangerous or stupid action is legal, simply because laws are nearly always implemented as a blacklist, meaning that somebody has to think to ban the specific action in question.

      The United States has an assumed Right of Privacy. EU countries all have clearly legislated rights to privacy. The fact th
  • highest debut of Neil [Diamond]'s career
    Sharp deducion tells me that at the highest debut of Neil [Diamond]'s career, people were converting from 78 to 33.3 RPM. And they aparently had rootkits then. Indeed, Sony has always been evil.
  • They don't get it.

    Ok. Whatever.

    A maharishi that like Beastie Boys. A guru that leads a yoga session with Metallica.

    Gimme a break.

    What the music industry needs is something like the SEC.

    Information.

    At least that's what the SEC aims to provide -- in the first place. Information. A 10-K. An 8-K. Etc.

    What do music fans need? Information.

    Give me the name of an artist or a group and five seconds with Google and I'll have a website at my fingertips. Yet you want me to go down to the nonexistent Tower or whatever.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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