Tuesday, November 15, 2005

sony recalls DRM-crippled cds

it was only a matter of time before this story got so big that sony had to retreat with its tail between its legs. people don't like to be treated like enemy combatants. that's no way to treat your customers. from usa today:

Sony BMG Music Entertainment said Monday it will pull some of its most popular CDs from stores in response to backlash over copy-protection software on the discs.

Sony also said it will offer exchanges for consumers who purchased the discs, which contain hidden files that leave them vulnerable to computer viruses when played on a PC.

Details about how long it will take to replace the XCP CDs and about its consumer exchange program will come later in the week, Sony said.

Sony began adding copy-protection to its CDs in June 2004 with the release of a record by the band Velvet Revolver, saying it was taking a step against unauthorized online file-sharing and CD burning.

The label says it will issue all major releases with copy-protection in 2006, as will rival label EMI. The other major labels, Universal Music and Warner, have yet to release copy-protected CDs.

Sony also issues copy-protected CDs using software from digital rights management company SunnComm. But those, which include releases by the Foo Fighters and the Dave Matthews Band, haven't come under the same kind of attack.

However, many artists have spoken out about all forms of copy-protected CDs, including Matthews, the Foo Fighters and Christian rock band Switchfoot. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones are set to release a new album on Sony in January, and it will not be copy protected, says Fleck's manager, David Bendett.

Frustrated when he bought a copy-protected Dave Matthews release and couldn't copy it to his Apple iPod, Fleck insisted that Sony not release his new album with such restrictions, Bendett says.

Sony says its copy-protected CDs are clearly marked, but the front labels don't identify whether they use the XCP software. That information is included in small print on the back of the CD, which reads "?cp.sonybmg.com/xcp".

sony foolishly sticks by its plans to include DRM in future releases. not a smart move, especially since consumers are now more likely to be paying attention to whether a release has DRM. but at least sony has realized that xcp went too far. the question is whether they would try another malicious DRM product in the hopes that this time nobody will notice, or whether the DRM-as-spyware technique has seen its last days. i'm afraid it hadn't, but i'm cynical like that.

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