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Sony Government The Courts News

Sony to Settle Spyware Suit with Downloads? 187

modemac writes to tell us the Seattle PI is reporting that a judge has 'tentatively' approved a settlement against Sony BMG that would give customers free music downloads as compensation for the recent flawed 'rootkit' software on many new CDs. From the article: 'According to terms of the settlement, Sony BMG will let consumers who bought the CDs receive replacement discs without the anti-piracy technology and will let them choose one of two incentive packages. The first package lets consumers who bought XCP CDs to obtain a cash payment of $7.50 and a promotion code allowing them to download one additional album from a list of more than 200 titles. The second package permits them to download three additional albums from the list. The court papers said Sony BMG would try to offer Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes as one of the download services available to the consumers.'"
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Sony to Settle Spyware Suit with Downloads?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:50PM (#14418021)
    In other news. Sony's HMO offered to make up for HIV tainted blood with a new cure that only causes cancer.
  • by georgewilliamherbert ( 211790 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:52PM (#14418025)
    ...was Bittorrent...
  • Slap on the wrist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikkoApo ( 854304 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:52PM (#14418026)
    If a guy gets a 11 billion fine for sending spam, Sony ought to get a bit more for dangering its customers' computers.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      7.50 doesn't even cover the cost of the CD. Sony ought to be paying the full cost of the CD, PLUS damages incurred by the rootkit software, PLUS extra to set an example.
      • Re:Slap on the wrist (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:21PM (#14418147)
        Agreed, 7.50 is baffling. Average expected cleanup costs alone are higher than that. Then there should be cash returned for the CD's origianl value. And there should be a punitive amount paid to an appropriate charity organization (like EFF, for example) of roughly an equal order of magnitude to set an example that an experienced music and technology company should know better.

        I would guesstimate that this number is too low by about an order of magnitude.
      • by Weezul ( 52464 )
        I'd take away Sony's ability to own any intellectual property within the United States for a period of 10 years.
        • I like the idea, but how would you go about enforcing it? What's to stop Sony from just licensing all of their IP from "Sony R&D" (hypothetical), an otherwise unrelated corporation? Then Sony wouldn't actually own any IP, but the overall effect would remain unchanged. When sentencing a corporation, you have to remember that the corporation isn't actually a real person; if the punishment is too stringent, then the owners will simply disband and you'll be left with nothing to enforce the sentence against.
          • Yes and no, I like the iddea of elimionating limited liability for corperations, i.e. making stock holders liable, but also allowing the courts to reasign all the debt to the executives & board members who made the decissions, so that ordinary people don't get screwed. But its not true that corperations can necissarily avoid big punishments.

            However, its actually quite easy to make the "no IP" restriction extremely painful. If you merely voided all Sony's current copyrights, Sony CD prices would crash
      • Re:Slap on the wrist (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )
        Lets face it, lawyers who get caught up in big class-settlement types are more of the ambulance chsing kind. They can't negotiate well and most members of the settlement group will settle for anything. So they just work with Sony for the least expensive settlement the judge will allow. And here it is! The lawyers get paid, the plaintiffs get some token crap, and everyone wins.

        Ideally, the damages should include time spent cleaning their rootkit off windows machines. What would best buy charge for that?
    • The spammer doesn't contribute to your campaign fund, so he gets to be the example.
    • I submitted the same story. [slashdot.org] I think mine was slightly more informative than a simple rehash of settlement terms. It's still pending, but since now that it would be a dupe.... :-/
  • by JackTripper ( 798804 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:53PM (#14418030)
    $7.50 + 1 album, or 3 albums Where X is an album: $7.50 + (1 * X) = 3 * X $7.50 = 2 * X X = $7.50 / 2 = $3.75 Value of a full-length album according to Sony: $3.75
    • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:33PM (#14418197) Homepage Journal
      The going rate for reinstalling Windows from scratch to repair a destroyed CD system and remove a rootkit is at least $75US. Didn't Slashdot tell us before that people were paying $125 to remove spyware? Why doesn't Sony have to live up to that standard, it wasn't just that their CDs were broken, it's that they BREAK computers too.

      And this doesn't even take into account punitive damages.
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:36PM (#14418210) Journal
      Well, since the offerings are "from a list of more than 200 titles." I think it'd be fair to assume that Sony is going to be offering up albums from their catalog of music.

      If that's the case, then the music only costs them whatever cut the music store(s) would normally get per track/album.

      In iTunes' case, Apple gets 4 pennies per track. The artists get 8%~14%, so even if Sony 'values' each album at $3.75, on iTunes, Sony is never going to payout more than 18% of the value.*

      My guess is that Sony tacked on a free album to their $7.50 offer to pull onboard anyone who isn't on the online music gravy train. The 3 album offer is probably cheaper for them.

      Either way, Sony doesn't lose much money on this.

      *I realize I'm assuming the costs of albums are somehow related to the costs of individual tracks, but the idea is to set a ceiling on Sony's possible losses.
    • This is for those who, like me, had a difficult time parsing the non-standard math notation -- is 2 * X X equal to 2 * X^2 or something?

      In compensation, you either get 3 albums -OR- $7.50 + 1 album. We'll assume the value offered is considered by Sony to be equivalent. Let's do the math in plain English:

      So 3 albums = $7.50 + 1 album.
      2 albums = $7.50
      1 album = $3.75

      Thus, the value of 1 album according to the above assumptions is $3.75.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:55PM (#14418040)
    The first package lets consumers who bought XCP CDs to obtain a cash payment of $7.50 and a promotion code allowing them to download one additional album from a list of more than 200 titles. The second package permits them to download three additional albums from the list.

    So when they let you download two additional albums, the combined value is $7.50. When you get them from a friend, they are suddenly worth $75,000.00.

    • No no, it's when you give them to 2 friends that they are worth $75000. Because then they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and they give them to 2 friends, and by then you're responsible for giving the music away a thousandfold.

    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:17PM (#14418133) Journal
      So when they let you download two additional albums, the combined value is $7.50. When you get them from a friend, they are suddenly worth $75,000.00.
      Which is why you can remove yourself from the class action and sue Sony's ass for fun stuff like damages.

      But first, 1,000 people have to withdraw
      D. Defendants' Limited Right To Withdraw From Settlement
      Defendants have the right to withdraw from the settlement, if the number of timely and valid requests for exclusion from the Settlement Class exceeds 1,000.
      The post (from the previous article) I found that info in [slashdot.org]

      So.... Sony isn't going to see any criminal charges, but you can definitely have a go at trying to get more blood out of them.
      • by micheas ( 231635 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:37PM (#14418213) Homepage Journal
        A slightly more informative link. http://www.eff.org/IP/DRM/Sony-BMG/settlement_faq. php [eff.org]

        At first I was unhappy with the settlement, but then I got to the following section:

        I think my CD drive was seriously damaged by the XCP or MediaMax software. Do I have to give up my claims against Sony BMG for this injury?

                No. The settlement does not release claims for:

                        * damage to a computer or network resulting from interactions between the XCP Software or the MediaMax Software and your computer (e.g., damage to your hard drive);
                        * damage related to your reasonable efforts to remove the XCP Software or the MediaMax Software; or
                        * copyright, trademark or other claims arising from the development of the MediaMax Software or the XCP Software, or any uninstallers or updates thereto.

                You may still sue Sony BMG for any such claims, whether or not you choose to take advantage of the settlement benefits. As part of the settlement process, Sony BMG agreed to waive its unconscionable New York forum selection clause and $5 limit on damages, so you can take them to your local small claims court for your damages. EFF will be developing a web page explaining how to use the small claims process to bring a lawsuit against Sony BMG.

        I am not a lawyer, but I would like a small claims slashdotting of sony for this.

        Remove the root kit, for someone that got toasted, send them a bill, attach the small claims form to the bill: Imagine the pain of forty thousand small claims actions against them.

        So, if my reading is correct, only if the damage is greater than small claims court do you want to opt out. otherwise we can try for the first small claims slashdotting.
        • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @06:03PM (#14418310) Journal
          Ouch... that is really going to hurt Sony.
          Sony BMG agreed to waive its unconscionable New York forum selection clause and $5 limit on damages
          For the people who don't know what that means... Sony is not going to be able to enforce those two portions of their EULA.

          I'd like to know if "unconscionable" was the EFF's wording, or... because Unconscionable [reference.com] (with regards to a contract) is like asking for someone's first born child.

          There is zero (0) chance that they're going to be able to send out lawyers to deal with every single small claims suit filed across the country. The net result is going to be a shit-load of default judgements against Sony (assuming people know to sue).
          • "unconscionable" (Score:2, Informative)

            by djw ( 3187 )
            IANAL, but I'm about to marry one.

            "Unconscionable" in contract terms is not about morality -- it simply means that the clause doesn't belong there by any stretch of the imagination. In other words, if party A drafted the contract, then it's totally unreasonable to expect party B to have foreseen that clause appearing in it, or to have signed the contract had they known the clause was there. The New York venue clause is an example because, when you're buying a CD, you simply don't expect to have to go to

        • Not only that, members of a class action can choose to "opt out" and sue Sony directly if they desire. Though it probably would not be easy to do for an average individual. http://www.eff.org/IP/DRM/Sony-BMG/settlement_faq. php#10 [eff.org] I don't like this settlement. How do I opt out? If you don't want to participate in the settlement and get the settlement benefits, and you want to keep the right to sue Sony BMG on your own about any of the claims that this settlement resolves, then you must take steps to
        • What if i removed it myself? I charge money for my time for a customer.

          • by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
            Well, write up yourself a bill. Don't hide that this is your billing yourself for professional services, but make it clear that this is what you would charge others. Be reasonable. Add an addendum billing yourself for the time it takes you to prepare the case for small claims court. Then take it to small claims court, ask for reimbursement for time spent, and see what happens. At worst you'll be out a bit more time. It seems quite likely that you'll get at least part of it awarded as a default judgeme
        • Imagine the pain of forty thousand small claims actions

          So death by (forty) thousand small claims courts? I like it!

        • I for one, seriously hope people take this step if they had to pay someone to clean up their computer.

          I had one person who called me on this when it first came out, and after doing the research on what happens, I told them it would be better off waiting for a clean uninstall option. They chose to pay someone else $120 to reinstall windows for them (I would have done it cheaper). I have since passed this information on to them and advised them to force Sony to pay for it.

        • At first I was unhappy with the settlement, but then I got to the following section:

          Yeah, that's great and all, but can you point me to the section where they promise to cooperate with felony computer trespass investigations? No? How about the section where they promise to make available copies of all data/information stolen from their victims' hard drives to the investigating authorities and then purge all such information from their own records? Oh, no section for that either huh? How about the sect

      • The post (from the previous article) I found that info in [slashdot.org]

        You might want to check out MacDork's latest journal entry [slashdot.org] too ;-) (Yes, my write up got beaten by this one... but mine is still pending, so I'm hoping for a dupe at least...)

        So.... Sony isn't going to see any criminal charges, but you can definitely have a go at trying to get more blood out of them.

        I wouldn't say criminal charges are out of the question... It's just that we can't get any public officials to investigate the fact

    • Makes sense to me.
  • by undeadly ( 941339 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:56PM (#14418041)
    when someone just plays a CD the user bought, and the user gets just about nothing in compensation? More importantly, this is not a deterrent for other/same company to pull the same stunt again.
    • The terms of the class action allow you to sue Sony in small claims court for damage to your computer/network.

      read this post
      http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=173284&cid =14418213 [slashdot.org]

      There are about a dozen +5 Insightful comments parroting the same thing.

      In small claims court, you don't need a lawyer.
      Just to cut off the "but the lawyers make all the money" comments.
    • Someone gave me a Sony/BMG CD as a gift recently. (Kenny Chesney CD) -- Is there a complete list of infected CDs? I'm afraid to play this one in my PC (the only CD player in the house)
  • It's Something (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigDork1001 ( 683341 )
    Well it's something but what about people who are on dial-up or have no Internet access at all? Not everyone out there who owns a computer has screaming-fast broadband. I didn't RTFA (I know, shocking) but I hope they plan on offering the content some other way for those people.
  • Bad Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neostorm ( 462848 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:57PM (#14418047)
    Why do we continually let wrong-doing companies settle lawsuits by giving away advertising? This same thing happened with Microsoft back when their "punishment" was to give several school districts copies of Windows and other MS Software. This action isn't reprimanding the company at fault, but giving them more customers instead.

    I wish lawsuits could only be settled with cold-hard-cash or *serious*, displayable change in company policy to avoid future indiscretions.
    • Re:Bad Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:14PM (#14418120)
      It's ridiculous. When a school kid breaks into some computer to snoop around, companies claim damages of tens of thousands of dollars because the hacker *might* have changed something. The courts just lap it up. But when Sony does something worse (not just poking around, but installing a backdoor) it's $7. When you think about all the inconvenience and expense of rebuilding a rooted box, $7 is absurd. What does giving permission to copy a few music files cost Sony? Nothing. All the cynical predictions about Sony getting off scot free were 100% correct.
      • "$7 is absurd. What does giving permission to copy a few music files cost Sony? Nothing."

        Since, you know, Sony BMG didn't lose any customers to this scandal. And they didn't lose any sales to people who are getting a free album or three. And there aren't enough people out there who buy Sony BMG CDs that would multiply up seven dollars to the tens of thousands of dollars range. And they're not losing any money at all to the amount of work they have to put into enforcing this plan they have.
        • Re:Bad Justice (Score:3, Interesting)

          by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 )
          What you say is true, but the point is the average person who had to pay to get thier system rebuilt should be adequately copensated since it was Sony BMG's fault.

          My system is pretty complex. If I had to pay to get it redone, it might run $300-400. The courts telling me that Sony only owes me $7.50 and a crappy album is going to make me start looking for a gun (figuratively).

          Its ABSURD and the main reason I hate class-actions, it short changes the individual claimant.

          Every single person in the suit should h
      • Actually, it's $7 x 20 million XCP disks, or $140 million, plus they have to give away at least one more album for free, which is a potential additional $7.50 x 20,000,000 = $150 million in sales they're giving away for free. Sure, they have a lot more money than that, what they did is irreprehensible, and I for one wish they were forced to pay something more realistic per user, but the problem lies with the class-action lawsuit model, not the judge. If an individual could afford to sue Sony and actually
    • And to make matters worse, these albums are likely to suck.
      Remember This: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5226945/ [msn.com]

      Unless there's high demand for 'Entertainment Weekly's Greatest Hits of 1971' this is just going to be another inventory clean-out.
    • Re:Bad Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:39PM (#14418220)
      Why do we continually let wrong-doing companies settle lawsuits by giving away advertising?

      Dunno. Why do "we"?

      I remember a long time ago when some Americans got pissed at a company and simply raided their supply of products and threw them into a harbor.

      Read all about it here [wikipedia.org].

    • A better punishment would be to make them buy the offended customer some albums from a competitor's label. Doesn't matter whose, as long as the ownership isn't tied in any way.
    • Why do we continually let wrong-doing companies settle lawsuits by giving away advertising?

      Minnesota suit didn't. But, if not shrink-wrap software or a complete PC, it had to be something a clueless user could plug into the box -- no video cards and the like. Massa Gates bought us a refurb '02 scanner, a cheap inkjet and a couple Cheapbytes keyboards with Tux replacing the Microsoft keys.

      Hey, it's something.
  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Saturday January 07, 2006 @04:57PM (#14418051) Homepage
    Minor nit: Submitter says "the Seattle PI is reporting" but the referenced URL [nwsource.com] appears to just be a reprint from the Associated Press with no byline.

    I don't doubt this story is accurate, but AP has had some pretty sensational blunders recently, so important to provide correct attribution and know how it was sourced.

    Speaking of that, I'd love to know who originated this sound of freedom story [komar.org] ... and shake their hand ... priceless!

  • by manavendra ( 688020 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:01PM (#14418067) Homepage Journal
    First of all, I don't understand what a "tentative" agreement to settlement means.

    Second, TFA says more than 20 million CD's with MediaMax were sold. this "tentative" settlement and the $7.50 compensation, is clearly biased since how many of these buyers would go back to the store to claim their compensation?

    Lastly, if >20 million CDs were sold, that's a *large* number of affected PC's. Sony might claim it has provided a "one-click" un-install software, the bug would still linger around for a lot longer

    Flawed justice, anyone?
  • by jskline ( 301574 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:01PM (#14418072) Homepage
    This really is just another in a long line of crap being pushed on the consumers by the lawyers who are the ones making the "real" money.

    I supposed most of you have forgotten that for all those machines infected with this parsite, it will cost the user about $150 per machine to have it removed or the machine reloaded and the equivalent of that in your valuable time if you are doing it yourself.

    Where do these bozo's get off with this one is beyond me!!
  • by SmoothTom ( 455688 ) <Tomas@TiJiL.org> on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:05PM (#14418085) Homepage
    Sony is facing no penalties and is not being made to 'repair' PC
    (or other 'puter's) their ill-thought out DRM may have damaged.

    When I buy a CD I want not only the recorded music at the highest quality
    available to me, but I want the artwork and other extras that come with that CD.

    (This doesn't mean that I don't D/L music from eMusic, Magnatunes, and
    iTunes, it just means that when I purchase a CD I do so for a specific
    set of reasons.)

    I have been to the Sony site and the Sunncomm site several times each, and have
    attempted to get any sort of reasonable response from both Sony (no
    responses at all) and Sunncomm (one seemingly automated response saying
    they will contact me.

    I don't need any fancy settlements and I DON'T want an MP3 - the quality of
    an MP3 is NOT the same as the quality of a standard CD track.

    Personally I would be satisfied with a replacement CD with no added
    software on it, and removal software that would leave my machines'
    installed software exactly as it was prior to Sony/Sunncomm (with the
    possible exception of modified dates and such, of course).

    I don't want some 'Sony Surprise' in the months or years down the road that
    will cause problems with any use I may wish to make of my computers.

    Below is my last e-mail to Sunncomm, and their only response to me:

    From: _______@____-______.com
    Subject: Unable to get response from Sunncomm support
    Date: December 9, 2005 3:46:14 PM PST
    To: investor@sunncomm.com, support@sunncomm.com
    Cc: _____@_____.org
    I run several Macintosh computers on my home LAN, and one of
    them is also the center of my entertainment system.

    Since I have a number of Sony/BMG CDs that may have dumped
    Sunncomm files onto my system(s) I have been trying to get
    information from your support folks to remove those files
    from my system(s) and undo any and all changes Sunncomm may
    have made to standard OS and application software on my

    Thus far I have received absolutely no response from
    Sunncomm support.

    If nothing else, please provide me with a list of files
    potentially left or changed by Sunncomm so that I can take
    my own measures to restore my system(s).

    (Note: Your FAQ information for Macintosh computers is
    severely lacking, and in some places incorrect.)

    Thank you for your time and attention,

    Their response to me:
    From: techsupport@sunncomm.com
    Date: December 9, 2005 4:12:01 PM PST
    To: _______@____-______.com
    Thank you for contacting us. A SunnComm Tech Support
    representative will respond to your email
    So far, there has been no further response from Sunncomm
    since that 09DEC autoresponse saying they would get back to
    me shortly.

    (I seriously doubt that I have any of the Sony distributed
    software on any of my machines, because I do
    NOT allow unauthorized installs to take place, but I
    would still like to have the information from them to
    allow me to verify this is the case.)

    Anyway, the "settlement" appears to be simply a way for Sony
    to protect themselves from protracted legal hassles at
    the cheapest cost to them. It is NOT in the best
    interest of any of their customers who may have had
    their system software damaged by the software
    distributed by Sony.

    -- Tomas

  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:07PM (#14418090) Homepage Journal
    Lawyers get millions and millions

    Users get to split the rest amongst themselves, giving them a whopping $7.50. Wow... that's almost the price of a large Chicken Lo Mein!

    Go Justice System!

    • (1) There are a lot more users getting $7.50 than there are lawyers getting millions. From the point of view of discouraging similar behavior in the future, that $7.50 to users is going to be a bigger stick than than the fees of a few lawyers.

      (2) Lawyers who handle these kinds of suits put up a lot of money up front, out of their own pockets. If the suit doesn't get certified as a class action, of if they lose, they are out that money. That happens a lot. In general, class action lawyers do OK, but no

      • The point shouldn't be to discouage future behavior, that should be a secondary effect of MAKING THINGS RIGHT to the people effected. $7.50 isnt making it right. And it might add up to more than lawyer fees, but it should be a realistic reimbursement to each person, say cost of a system reload, since the point should be to make things right to the people who sustained damages.
    • Don't complain. You're getting something for nothing. And you've done nothing the whole time the suit was active.

      This settlement doesn't affect your right to sue Sony independently and recover your total damages. You can opt out of the settlement and bring your own lawsuit, with your own attorney, before the settlement is approved. Note that this will either require you to pay for your own lawyer (quite expensive when Sony's lawyers are on the other end) or find a lawyer willing to take your case on conting
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:11PM (#14418102) Homepage Journal
    Rule 1: The first taste is always free.

    Rule 2: Replace bad product with good product.

    The underlying rule would seem to be, keep them coming back for more.

  • Who gets punished? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrAndrews ( 456547 ) <mcm@3.14159261889.ca minus pi> on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:13PM (#14418111) Homepage
    I haven't seen it written anywhere yet, but one question I've seen raised is who pays for this blunder? Let's say that I'm an artist who had that DRM on my CDs. My cut of the CD sales is already tiny, but now what they're saying is that I not only have to give back the money I earned from the original sales, but I'm also going to have to give away another CD's worth of money, too. A proper punishment for Sony would be to need to guarantee payments to the artists for every copy of every CD, even if it was called back because of DRM. Otherwise they're just passing the hurt on to the artists.
    • If I were the artist, I'd be suing Sony for damages over the bad press from the DRM'd CDs ... it's harder to find out if it's a Sony/BMG disc than to find out if it's by one of the artists whose discs were DRM'd.
    • by jefu ( 53450 )
      Who pays?

      Possibility 1 : The consumer - not the ones getting the $7.50 each, but all the rest. The price of CD's would just get bumped a bit - done over the next year or so no one would notice much and the corporate budget would balance.

      Possibility 2 : The artist - just add a small surcharge to the cost of producing their next albums. The alternative to paying it would probably be to lose the contract, so who would complain.

      Possibility 3 : Sony Employees in general - delay raises and bonuses for a b

  • I can see it now. Not one of those 200 titles has any artists who were ever in the top 40, much less the top 10 -- and that's since the 50s.

    Instead, it's unaltered copies (scratches and all) of 78RPM stuff (in Japanese) from the post-WWII period.

  • What value root? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:27PM (#14418172)
    People who've had their identity stolen because of a rootkit exploit installed by sony will no doubt be very happy to hear that all their woes can be solved by downloading sony's crapmedia.
  • So they have to give away copies of their IP for free. That costs them... nothing! What a penalty! Next time I murder someone, I want to be able to just promise never to do it again and be let go!
  • So, Sony managers get away with unauthorized sabotage of an countless computers, while a kid is being charged with a felony [theinquirer.net] for bringing down a school computer system? Talk about justice.
  • Too lenient... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:34PM (#14418203)
    A) this fiasco borders on fraud -- most people thought they were buying an ordinary audio CD that would work like any other, not something that would infect their computer permanently. Most people wouldn't even consider the possibility. These discs are a look-alike that have less features (e.g., you *can't* copy it onto your iPod) for the same price. They are a pseudo-Red Book Audio CD knock-off that Sony sold with the hope people wouldn't know or care about the difference.

    B) had it been anyone else, they would have been prosecuted for all kinds of computer-invasion-related crimes. Their equipment would be confiscated and they'd probably have to meet bail requirements.

    C) the RIAA and MPAA, at the urging of companies like Sony BMG, have been lobbying for harsher treatment of people committing illegal copying. Why should ordinary people be lenient at all when we are told that, should we download music files or copy music, we are guilty of stealing and should owe thousands of dollars of restitution, if not be thrown into jail? Furthermore, there is NO acknowledgement that some kinds of copying (e.g., of a disc I bought and paid for) fall under "fair use" and, therefore, are NOT illegal. I haven't downloaded any music I haven't paid for or that wasn't free with the permission of the people who made it.

    D) This whole thing occurred because Sony BMG, while protecting their legitimate copyright interests in this music, didn't care about the implications of destroying consumer's ability to legally exercise their fair use rights, or Sony wouldn't have deployed this stuff in the first place. They were reckless. And it isn't specific to a flaw in this protection method -- other methods degrade the quality of the data, and use all sorts of other stupid tricks. If they don't care about the implications of turning otherwise legal users into criminals if they circumvent these protections, then why should I care that they didn't *mean* to cause this degree of a problem?

    E) Comments by Sony management's early in the process were pathetic. Most people don't know what a rootkit is, so why should they care? Right. Most people don't know what DRM is, but they do care when it prevents them from using the product the way they did for every other audio disc they purchased.

    Let Sony roast in the legal flames for a while, until they are good and crispy. Until they acknowledge the underlying reasons this fiasco occurred, and commit to not deploying any kind of DRM that stomps on fair use rights or consumer's equipment, I say: NO MERCY. Persecute them to the full extent and penalty the law permits, just like they advocate for others. I don't care about the money or the free tracks, I want to see their policy change, and I want to see establishment of a deterrant that causes other companies to consider the same. It is high time the public stopped the erosion of their side of the bargain that is copyright.
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:36PM (#14418209) Homepage
    I have one question. People are getting un-DRM-restricted versions of the music that they bought, but... Sony is to offer people one to three additional album downloads. Under the terms of this settlement is Sony permitted to supply more DRM crippled crap for these? There is discussion of making them iTunes album downloads, which does seem to indicate that is their plan.

    I for one would scream bloody murder and write a letter to the judge that it would be intolerable for Sony to "remedy" and "compensate" the victims of Sony's DRM by dumping more DRM crap on them. The class actions lawyers would hardly be acting in the class-member's interests in permitting such a travesty settlement. If neccessary I would opt out of this settlement and push for a second independant lawsuit. And yes, class members specifically have the right to reject any unsatisfactory settlement and to persue a second case.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @05:41PM (#14418227) Homepage Journal
    Unless the download is a video of their CEO comitting seppku. It doesn't surprise me when corporate execs behave with no honor here in America, but I was hopeful that Japanese guys would have a higher standard. Given the great shame that entire debacle has brought the company, some people very high up in the company should own up to the mistakes and take the honorable way out. I might even be inclined to forgive SONY if that were to happen.

    My regime would require samurai honor code for public servants and corporate upper management. You wouldn't be able to weasel out of your responsibilities by donating the bribes you got from someone to charity once he got caught and was going to sing like a canary, either! No sir...

  • Most of the big class action suits end up paying the individual members of the suit a pittance once the lawyer fees are paid, and that after years of court battles. This settlement cuts the lawyers out of the equation, replaces the evil CD and gives the damaged person either 3 "free" (probably DRMed) digital albums or a small check and one download. I don't think these people were going to get more from the U.S. justice system -- the damages, while significant to the individuals ($100-150) would have been e

  • Sony shouldn't be able to weasel out of this at all cheaply. I want the value of my time per hour x the amount of time it would have cost me to deal with it, if I wasted my money on their crap.

    Once the financial harm is erased, someone needs to go to jail for this obvious breach of federal law. No slap on the wrist, no couple dollar fine, no free music. Somebody spends a few years behind bars.

  • If you treat ALL your customers like they are criminals, and damage their shit in the process, YOU are acting criminally.

    They deserve to die and have their back catalog turned over to the podsafe music network.

    FUCK 'EM...
  • by TheRealStyro ( 233246 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @06:41PM (#14418456) Homepage
    Dear Judge [insert name here]. I have read that you have tentatively approved a settlement for lawsuits against [insert evil company name here]. The proposed settlement has struck me as being very generous to [insert evil company name here] for the infection of millions of computers with software that causes numerous security and stability issues. So I thought I would write this letter to try to convince you to increase fines & fees against [insert evil company name here] as well as produce actual useful compensation for the owners of computers that have been infected.

    Imagine yourself in the following situation. You are the proud owner of a fine specimen of canine pedigree. In fact, to call it a dog would be a great insult. It is the love of your life and you have carefully trained it to be obedient & loving. You want it to live a long life so you feed it some food that is advertised as being very good for the health. Initially your pet loves the new food and everything is great. Then one day your loving pet starts getting violently ill & lethargic. You read that others pets that have eaten the same food are also sick. You contact the company and due to the public outcry they will send out an agent to help your pet. The company agent eventually comes out and after inspecting your sick pet he declares that he knows of a simple fix to get your pet moving again - he then takes a short run and kicks your poor pet in the rear. As your pet goes running off howling he claims the animal is now well and leaves. Soon after, you realize your pet is gravely ill and you must put it down. As you and other pet owners are discussing the outcome, you become outraged at such a heartless and cruel response from the company and start a large lawsuit. After months of talks and discussion you read a Judge will approve a settlement. You are thinking that the painful death of your beloved pet will not be in vain and that the evil company will be punished severely. Then you read the settlement agreement - the company will give you a free feral cat as well as one of two 'incentive' packages. Package one is $5 and 200 pounds of healthy cat food. Package two is your choice of three flavors of large boxes of healthy cat food. Needless to say you are again outraged and wish no end of poxes and plagues on the person and families of the Judge and company CEO.

    Now, honorable Judge [insert name here], I ask you to please reconsider the flawed proposed settlement against [insert evil company name here]. The victims of this tragedy deserve so much more compensation, and [insert evil company name here] deserve so much more punishment.

    Thank you.

    The preceding is a fictional letter that would be sent if my computer(s) had been infected and I lived within the jurisdiction of this Judge.

    The company written in the second paragraph of this article is in no manner representative of any company existing, having existed or existing in the future. In fact, the whole second paragraph is just an interesting fictional story inserted into a fictional letter for no reason at all save for extending said letter.
  • by grondak ( 80002 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @06:46PM (#14418475) Homepage
    If one of us dropped a rootkit on Sony's computers, we'd go to jail.
    If Sony does it to us, they can mea culpa and smile? Did they buy out the Mentos plant so they could get away with ANYTHING?

    Since the rootkit installs even when you decline the EULA, Sony needs to be prosecuted under the same laws we enforce upon script kiddies. All of them. There is no compensation that a 15 year old kid can give Sony (how about a download, Sonycorp?) that would stop them from pursuing civil and criminal lawsuits, and there should be nothing Sony can do to avoid the same discussions in open court. People at Sony made a really bad decision, and they should pay for transgressions in the same way a 15 year old kid would: with hard time.
  • the setttelment tunes with all that shitware? and where are the CRIMINAL procecuters?
  • Will we allow iTunes downloads? Ummm... We'll TRY!

    Whatever. They just don't want to pay full consumer prices for 3 CDs worth of music and Apple won't give them a discount.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who has actually followed through with their "outrage" and made the effort to file in small claims court, or try to push for an actual criminal charge for computer hacking? The rootkit qualifies as malicious hacking, so there's an angle to explore, but you'd have to convince your local prosecutor to actually make the charges. Who's going to spend the time explaining this to some flatfoot prosecutor? How long before he laughs you out of his office? What judge is even going to understand this if you file in s
  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Saturday January 07, 2006 @07:05PM (#14418561) Journal

    From the episode where Apu gives Homer food poisoning (SNPP):

    Homer. Woo hoo! Cheap meat! [picks it up] Ooh, this one's open. [starts eating it]

    Homer is carted off to the hospital with food poisoning; he later returns to the Quick-E-Mart for reparations.

    Homer. Your old meat made me sick!
    Apu. Oh, I'm so sorry. [gets a pail of shrimp] Please accept five pounds of frozen shrimp?
    Homer. [holds one up, sniffs it] This shrimp isn't frozen! And it smells funny.
    Apu. OK, ten pounds.
    Homer. Woo hoo!


  • So, do the artists get their normal royalties for these downloads that Sony is giving away (as small as they may be)???
  • Sounds like it's time to gain unauthorized access to Sony's internal networks. I mean, if a compromised system is only worth $7.50 + one Justin Timberlake CD in civil fines and no criminal charges at all then how can a hacker lose?
  • I'm sorry, but I thought these "penalties" were supposed to penalize the perpetrator???

    If ever I am found guilty of something like this, I hope I will also be allowed to print my own money with which to make reparations. Who determines the 'value' of said compensatory downloads? Who? The criminal? The Accused?! Damn! And for community service, I would like to insist that my services are so valuable that I should be credited 10 hours for every minute I work.

    While "giving away" free downloads, seems lik
  • So they're going to give away something that costs them virtually nothing to appease people who's machines they invaded? Plus, the people invovled clearly don't want downloaded music, or they wouldn't have bought the spyware infested CD in the first place.

    I'd be telling them to get fucked.

    This "offer" entirely misses the point - I'd press for criminal charges laid against whoever authorised the use of this invasive software - plus compensation in terms of MONEY (lost time due to machine downtime, plus

  • With a meter counting the time between Sony screwings. Like those signs in the office "We have gone 'XX' days without a work-related injury". The flurry is getting overwhealing.

    Monday: "Sony releases new patch which installs the fix to the the rootkit-uninstaller's rootkit, but makes user's head explode."

    Tuesday: "Sony lawyers suggest compensating angry customers with Milkbones - 2 apiece. The Milkbones are stale and infested with wheat weevils."

    Wednesday: "Sony CEO attempts offer of soul to Satan in

  • I seem to remember a few years ago that there was some movement in the legal world to forbid such settlement payments. This is where items of no discernable value except for the arbitrary number given to them by the transgressor themselves are used to weasel out of a true payment. The name comes from the normal practice of issuing coupons toward the purchse of more products from the evil corporation.

    This problem was not about bad CD's, but about potential or real damage to customers' computers. A more

  • 1) The Texas AG case is not settled by this.
    2) The settlement still leaves room for members of the class to sue for damages to their computer.

    Don't think of this as Sony getting off. Think of this as a first payment on what Sony is going to go through.
  • Why do I suspect that in order to actually use the code to obtain the 'free download', one would have to 1. Use the download service's proprietary software, 2. Register as a customer with the download service, including providing CC# and other private information, and that 3. The 'free download' will be DRM-crippled anyway.

    For this to even BEGIN to be considerable as a reasonable settlement, the 'free download' would need to be provided as a standard http or ftp download, with no proprietary software or reg

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner