Sony’s evil DRM

Sony BMG, the only major record label that refused to sign up to the Apple iTunes Australia store, has been caught red-handed taking Digital Rights Management measures that put a trojan onto Windows computers. It puts files disguised as device drivers onto the computer. Attempts to remove the files may end up in your CD/DVD drive being disabled. Mark Russinovich at SysInternals has the grisly details. Naturally none of this crap is detailed in the EULA displayed when you put the CD in, and it can’t be easily removed once it’s there — in fact Sony ask you to contact their customer service department to remove it!

The DRM does allow limited copies of the music to be made, but not in a form playable on iPods. Sony blame Apple for this, even suggesting that people complain to Apple, despite that it’s Sony’s DRM that stops it working.

Interestingly on Macs, the DRM doesn’t operate, and you can use the CD as normal, I assume including ripping to MP3. Hopefully that’s also the case on Linux and other operating systems.

Sony has now announced that a patch will be issued. It won’t remove the DRM nasties, but it will uncloak them.

This shows complete contempt from Sony to its customers. What a pack of evil bastards. They obviously haven’t twigged that eventually they’ll lose any copy protection arms race — not only will anonymous hackers figure out how to get around it, but they’ll have alienated lots of customers in the process by producing these broken CDs. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if some people get so pissed-off by the whole idea that they seek out pirated copies (ripped on Macs!) on P2P services.

Interestingly, one label that Sony distributes is distancing itself from their DRM. And Ben Edelman and Ed Bott ponder if Sony is committing fraud by selling these products as “CDs”, given they break the established standard.

Sunday 1pm: Update from SysInternals about the patch