Sony settles controversial CD ‘cloaking’ case


3 Jan 2006

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In recent days music label Sony BMG settled with a New York-based attorney representing all consumers who purchased Sony CDs that harboured secretly installed copy restriction software that posed serious security risks.

In October the controversy over the secret rootkit software emerged when a US software programmer discovered extended copy protection (XCP) software hidden on a Sony music CD that could in turn leave computers vulnerable to hackers.

Antivirus software firms later discovered Trojan Horses that exploited the XCP software. It was also discovered that another form of Sony digital rights management (DRM) technology called MediaMax posed another security risk.

Sony BMG struck a deal with the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit in a New York last week. The company has agreed to compensate buyers of CDs that contain the XCP and MediaMax DRM software and to provide software utilities to allow consumers to uninstall both types of software from their computer.

Following what was described as virtual round-the-clock settlement negotiations, Sony will immediately recall all XCP CDs and replace them with a non-content-protected CD.

Sony has also agreed to offer incentives to US-based customers to ensure that XCP CDs are promptly removed from the market. These include an offer of three albums to download from a list of over 200 downloads or they can claim a cash payment of US$7.50 and a free album download.

By John Kennedy