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DRM:From Bad to Worse

Out of the music companies irrational fears of lost revenue, Digital Rights Management (DRM) was born. Anyone who has worked with legally purchased music, only to find that they are severely restricted in what they can do with it, will certainly agree that DRM needs to adress the consumer’s needs as well as the music companies’. As bad as this implementation has been, Sony has taken it to a whole new level by surreptitiously installing software on the computers of unsuspecting consumers trying to listen to their music. The PR nightmare had only just begun with this revelation, however, when it was learned that the technology that was employed could be exploited as a backdoor into the users PC. Sony’s initial response was to provide a patch that merely removed the file cloaking technology that was used, rather than provide an uninstall utility. The only way to get the uninstaller was to fill out a couple forms. As a final insult, the e-mail address you are required to provide can be added to Sony marketing lists, per their privacy policy.

Sony has finally made the rational decision to stop shipping CD’s containing this software, albeit temporarily. The emergence of a Trojan Horse that was exploiting the hole opened by their software was probably largely responsible for this. Sadly, I am sure that in the near future we will see more misguided attempts by the music companies to control exactly how their music is used by the consumer. We can only hope that the next iteration of this type of repressive software will not compromise the security of their customers’ computers in the process.

Posted by Jeff

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