Nov 17 2005

Piracy Is OK – Sony Says So!

Published by at 2:32 pm under Current Affairs

This is an old article and the information contained within it may be out of date, not reflect my current views and/or contain broken links. If you feel this article is still valid and requires updating, you can use the contact form to let me know. However, I make no guarantee that it will get updated.

According to Sony it is perfectly alright to pirate software!!!

Unless you have had your head buried in the sand you cannot fail to have heard about Sony faux-pas with the rootkit software that came with its latest offerings on the audio CD market. It turns out that Sony CDs have been shipped with DRM software that was installed on PCs and Macs when the CD was inserted into a computer. Not only did the CD install DRM software but another piece of software, the rootkit, was installed to hide the DRM software. This rootkit has already been used by malicious uses to create a virus that can remain hidden from Anti-Virus software.

Things get even better through. Sony has released a utility to allow users to remove the rootkit from their computer (the DRM software remains), only the rootkit is not fully removed. An ActiveX component is left on the computer which can be used by a malicious website creator to force a reboot of the users machine. It is beleive that the ActiveX can may also be used to run malicious code on the users computer but a proof of concept of this has not yet known to have been created.

So how does this make it ok to break software copyrights? Well, somewhere in their DRM/rootkit Sony is including the LAME MP3 encoder. I’m not entirely certain what it is being used for but the LAME encoder is released under the LGPL. As far as I can tell (the LGPL and GPL are rather complex) for your software to make use of LGPL software your software license must be compatible with the LGPL, i.e. you must release the source code for your software. As far as I know the DRM/rootkit is not released under an LGPL license and therefore Sony is breaking the LAME encoder copyright (or left as the case may be). This would seem to be an endourcement by Sony that it is OK to break copyright.

Right… I’m off to download as many Sony tracks as I can before the BitTorrent networks are shutdown :-)

I’ve not provided links in the article as frankly there are far too many so here are a couple of round-up articles posted by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing:

It seems that the LAME encoder is not the only software copyright that Sony is breaking. Apparently they are also using DVD Jon Johansens FairPlay code that was written to break Apples iTunes DRM… how ironic!

Cory Doctorow: Mark sez, “This website tracks the class action lawsuits surrounding the Sony BMG Music Entertainment/First4Internet XCP Rootkit. Additionally, it offers information about how individuals who do not wish to wait for the class action can sue Sony in their local small claims court.” Link [From BoingBoing]

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