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Sony, Amazon Detail Rootkit CD Buybacks 240

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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  • MP3 files (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:27PM (#14067497) Homepage Journal
    I bet that the MP3's will be watermarked with the individual downloader's unique ID, so Sony/RIAA can later sue their customers...

    That said, what bitrate, frequency and codec is used for the MP3s?

  • by Work Account ( 900793 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:28PM (#14067500) 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.
  • Turn of the tide? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:28PM (#14067504)
    Nice of Amazon to do this, since it wasn't really their rootkit (or maybe they're thinking about potential liability, doesn't really matter).

    It'd be great if Amazon and other big vendors refused to carry discs with this sort of horrible DRM. That'd probably get the music company's attention a little better than a few geeks organizing a boycott.

  • by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:35PM (#14067551)
    Recalling the CD's is merely a slap on the wrist. It doesn't cost Sony as nearly as much money as a lawsuit, costs Amazon money, and it does not repair the damage to numerous artists names by this rootkit.

    If Sony actually would own up to their stupid mistake, the artists wouldn't be impacted so much. Look at Van Dant's CD on Amazon. 1.5 stars, 300 reviews, most mentioning the rootkit. Do you think that he'll fare so well in the future.

    I have lost faith in Sony. Propietary formats and other things were a little odd, but I accepted them. But rootkits, a patent for games that only play on the console they were originally put in...seems like a ridiculous infringement on user rights.

    Rather than losing money to pirates, people will turn to better solutions and Sony will be the loser.
  • Who would buy these? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by affliction ( 242524 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:46PM (#14067620) Homepage
    6. Bette Midler - Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook

    Who in their right mind would subject themselves to such torture. And, what's more, someone paid for the privlege.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:53PM (#14067665)
    And well they should be! In many countries what they did is criminal and should land the decision makers in prison. Both the computer sabotage and the code theft are an issue. Even if Sony can claim they trusted the vendor of the rootkit, then people there should go to prison and Sony would not look that much better.

  • by SpammersAreScum ( 697628 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @07:55PM (#14067679)
    The article seems to indicate the offers cover CDs with First4Internet's XCP crap, but that's it. There's apparently similar ugliness with CDs using Sunncomm's MediaMaz copy protection (see http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=925 [freedom-to-tinker.com]) which is not covered. I guess that one hasn't gotten enough mainstream media coverage yet...
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:12PM (#14067774) Homepage Journal
    I never said that Sony excels at customer support. My point was that Sony BMG is not the same as Sony, and that (perhaps especially) with Sony, one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. Thus you had ATRAC3 being pushed at the same time as they sold CD burners, and now you have Vaio ripping stations and MP3 playing Walkman cell phones being sold at the same time as CDs that won't work with either.

    Perhaps Sony has become so big that it's time for a split. Sony BMG is obviously not part of Sony itself (they own half of it), and appears to work too independent of the parent company.

    As for Sony's history, remember that they started out as Sonitape, making tapes enabling people to copy music. That's been part of their core business for a LONG time, even though it doesn't fit with the business model of some of their new veeps.

  • by BushCheney08 ( 917605 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:20PM (#14067808)
    Thanks for the link. However, this was one of a whole 3 articles that comes up for a google news search for "sony bmg rootkit merger". Also, the article doesn't particularly offer a whole lot of proof that it was BMG that brought this along, other than saying that BMG has used DRM in the past. It should be noted that ALL of the (now 4) major labels have used forms of DRM in the past...
  • Ah, the irony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stuffman64 ( 208233 ) <stuffman@gmai l . com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:24PM (#14067835)
    I just love the fact that when my friend put the Natasha Bedingfield CD to listen to it, I told him I wouldn't be suprised if his computer broke (or at least got mad at him) by putting that crappy excuse for music in there. Seems I was right- his attempt to remove the rootkit totally borked his XP to the point it no longer boots. Guess he should have read the article [theregister.co.uk] at the Register first.

    I really wanted to buy the NW-A3000 [engadget.com] MP3 player when it's released here (everyone and their mom has an iPod... literally). iPods are nice and all, but I'd like something a bit different. Now that I don't know if I can trust Sony, where am I to turn? That thing was so cool looking too.
  • Re:No Cash? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:34PM (#14067893)
    I think you should ask for more than your purchase price back. These disks, if not returned for destruction, have the ability to hurt Sony for many years to come, and Sony must know this. The disks have a long lifespan and each one of them could cause damage to multiple computers if it were passed around.

    I would offer to sell the disk(s) to Sony for twice the original price, plus (if one of them infected my computer) the cost of a complete professionally-done system and software re-install, plus $5-100/hour for my time.
  • by tyllwin ( 513130 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:37PM (#14067908)
    I'm not going to boycott Sony over this. Not Sony hardware at least. BUT, Sony's not the cheapest on the market. I bought my Sony receiver, and my daughter's Sony camcoder, for example, because I had some degree of TRUST in their products. If they shatter that, and they have, why exactly would I pay a premium for Sony products? I'm far less likely to buy Sony than I was, and it's not because I'm boycotting -- they've simply destroyed part of the value I found in them. Now they're no different from "unnamed manufacturer which I mistrust."

    Maybe they could regain some trust from me. If I saw (1) a disavowal of their subsidiary's actions, (2) an unequivocal admission and apology, (3) a couple of executives fired without parachutes, and (4) a lawsuit against First4Internet sufficient to bankrupt them, I might start. But right now, I'm left feeling that Sony thinks they have a PR problem, not that they think they did something deeply wrong.
  • Amazon and Sony (Score:1, Interesting)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:44PM (#14067942) Homepage
    It sure would've been interesting to sit in on those discussions. I wonder if they were cordial or Amazon dropped hints about chunking their product line?

    As bad as this incident has been the response and comments of the Sony-BMG execs just added fuel to the fire. Their response was arrogant and clueless, rivaled only by the Bush administration for sheer gall and contempt of the average person.

    If Sony is reflective of the attitude of big business toward their customers, then this rootkit business is only the warm up act. The captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign, please return to your seats and hang on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:49PM (#14067972)
    Here's some favorable press that First4Internet received a couple of years ago.

    http://www.xcp-aurora.com/press_article.aspx?art=x cp_art8 [xcp-aurora.com]
  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JWtW ( 875602 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @08:53PM (#14067993)

    "Step 3: Download free MP3s."

    Why do I have to download them? Can't the rootkit just go fetch 'em?

  • by trudyscousin ( 258684 ) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:04PM (#14068044)
    ...and where BMG were the ones who brought DRM into the picture."

    Is that so?

    Sony pulled the same crap [newscientist.com] with Celine Dion's album A New Day Has Come in 2002 using their key2audio DRM--the scheme that could be defeated with a felt-tip marker.

    As far as I'm concerned, there should have been the same degree of outrage then as there is now.
  • A little OT, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interactive_civilian ( 205158 ) <mamoru@gmail . c om> on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:59PM (#14068244) Homepage Journal
    stuffman64 said:
    I really wanted to buy the NW-A3000 MP3 player when it's released here (everyone and their mom has an iPod... literally). iPods are nice and all, but I'd like something a bit different. Now that I don't know if I can trust Sony, where am I to turn? That thing was so cool looking too.
    So, you mean that you don't know what to do because you were mainly basing your MP3(etc.) player purchase on what everyone else is using?

    No offense, but here is an idea: how about you go out and try some of the MP3 players and just choose the one you like or you think works best for you, rather than choosing one because everyone is (or is not, in your case) using it? I understand the desire to feel like a non-conformist, but don't let conformity or non-conformity get in the way of function. If an iPod works best for you, then don't worry about who else has one. If an iPod doesn't work best for you, then get whatever else you want, as long as you are willing to support the company that produces it.

    I will grant you that the Sony player does indeed look pretty cool, but being Sony, one has to wonder how well the software is designed and how easy it is to use over all. Of course, being Sony, I (like you) will never buy one after all of this crap they are pulling.

    Disclaimer: I am a proud iPod owner, and I recommend it to a LOT of people, but not because it is "cool". I recommend it because it is REALLY easy and comfortable to use. However, if you do get one, the first thing to do is get rid of the Apple Ear Buds and plug in some real headphones. I personally use a set of Technics RP-DJ1200s. :D

  • Re:Whew... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday November 18, 2005 @09:59PM (#14068245) Homepage
    I've noticed this a lot with copy protected CDs. Most the the time they seem to be artists that a very small percentage of the population listen to. The only artist I see on the list that is even somewhat popular is Our Lady Peace.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:16PM (#14068290)
    The CDs still remain defective.
    The defect is not about a second session containing a data track with a ISO9660 filesystem containing a rootkit and autorun.inf - the defect is about the audio part being defective, which they also declare as "copy protection" but is nothing more than a defective TOC, intentional short defects on CRC data, bad 8/14 encoding and some other nonsense which all violate the Redbook specification.
  • by Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:39PM (#14068355) Homepage
    Can I buy that song on a Sony CD?
  • by l0b0 ( 803611 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:06AM (#14069736) Homepage
    The answer which comes to mind: This was done to make sure the rootkit was introduced with a low profile, to alpha-test it...

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"