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[ EEPI-Discuss ] Artists angry over Sony's DRM fiasco

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Date:    Tue, 29 Nov 2005 23:15:45 EST
From:    Monty Solomon 
Subject: Sony's Escalating "Spyware" Fiasco
To:      undisclosed-recipient:
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NOVEMBER 22, 2005

News Analysis
By Lorraine Woellert

Sony's Escalating "Spyware" Fiasco
Along with lawyers, prosecutors, and furious fans, artists are 
joining the backlash against the label for slipping a hidden, 
anti-theft program into users' computers

Van Zant's Get Right with the Man CD was released in May, but six 
months later it still was doing better-than-respectable business on 
Amazon.com (AMZN ). The album ranked No. 887 on the online retailer's 
list of music sales on Nov. 2. Then news of the CD's aggressive 
content safeguards -- a sub-rosa software program incorporated 
courtesy of Sony BMG -- exploded on the Internet.

To prevent audiophiles from making multiple copies of the CDs, Sony 
(SNE) had programmed the Van Zant disk, and dozens of others, with a 
hidden code called a "rootkit" that secretly installs itself on hard 
drives when the CDs are loaded onto listeners' PCs. Soon enough, 
hackers began designing viruses to take malicious advantage of the 
hidden program, and a Sony boycott had begun (see BW Online, 
11/17/05, "Sony's Copyright Overreach").

GROWING OUTRAGE.  Overnight, Get Right with the Man dropped to No. 
1,392 on Amazon's music rankings. By Nov. 22 -- after the news made 
headlines and Sony was deep into damage control, pulling some 4.7 
million copy-protected disks from the market -- Get Right with the 
Man was even further from Amazon's Top 40, plummeting to No. 25,802.

The wrath of fans killed Sony's CD copy controls, with the company 
pulling 52 titles off retail shelves, beginning the week of Nov. 14. 
But the wrath of bands could be far worse for the company -- and for 
efforts to protect content in general.

Singers and songwriters are increasingly expressing frustration at 
devices used by record companies to protect digital content from 
widespread theft that results when CDs are copied repeatedly or 
popular tracks are given away on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, such as 
LimeWire and BitTorrent. Sony's misstep has been bad for the company 
-- and its effects could spread much further, should the consumer 
outcry gain traction with the recording artists who need to keep 
their fans happy if they want to sell records.


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