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Sony Sues Rootkit Maker

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the still-trying-to-recover dept.

Sony 334

flyboy974 writes "Sony BMG Music Entertainment is suing the company that developed anti-piracy software for its CDs, claiming the technology was defective and cost the record company millions of dollars to settle consumer complaints and government investigations. The software in question is the MediaMax CD protection system, widely derided as a rootkit. Sony BMG is seeking to recover some $12 million in damages from the Phoenix-based technology company, according to court papers filed July 3."

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Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (4, Interesting)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837055)

The rootkit software was developed by First 4 Internet (now called Fortium Technologies). I suppose that an inability to sue straight can now be added to Sony BMG's portfolio of stupidity and arrogance. I hope SunnComm (now called The Amergence Group), as despicable as its own efforts were, totally owns Sony BMG.

With all these name changes, I wonder when Macrovision is going to change theirs?

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (-1, Flamebait)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837139)

Your post interests me, does your newsletter explain WTF it means?

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (-1, Offtopic)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837611)

If I may digress for a moment: I think you should call yourself TapeCutterAndPaster instead. Your post is a tired Slashdot cliché.

But to give you the benefit of a doubt, I'll answer: My celebrated newsletter does explain WTF it means, but you're obviously too dim to comprehend it.

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (4, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837275)

With all these name changes, I wonder when Macrovision is going to change theirs. Probably on the day DRM is renamed as DCE as per recent industry execs suggestions. Digital Consumer Enablement.

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837421)

First 4 Internet (now called Fortium Technologies). [....] SunnComm (now called The Amergence Group) ... I wonder when Macrovision is going to change theirs? [....from another post:...] DRM is renamed as DCE as per recent industry execs suggestions. Digital Consumer Enablement. [...]

Wow, I'm suddenly excited: this entire business DEPENDS on being able to change their trademarks every now and then!

Now all we have to do, is wait that they run out of trademarks and implode upon themselves. Shit, there's quite some waiting in front of us.. :P

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (2, Insightful)

staticneuron (975073) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837571)

The are suing who they purchased from. Why are you critizing a point that isn't even important.

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837781)

Well, seeing as Sony did not have direct business dealings with Fortium, how would they have standing to sue them?

Sony made the purchase from Amergence -- they are claiming, among other things, that Amergence delivered a product that did not operate as described.

If Amergence wants to sue Fortium along the same reasoning, they are welcome to -- though I think they'd have a hard time of it.

Who originally wrote the rootkit is of no relevance. What matters is whether Amergence falsely represented the product they sold to Sony.

Re:Sony BMG does nothing to hurt their reputation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837783)

It's laughable that Sony has the balls to sue for damages, as if they had no idea what they were distributing or what this software did. They PAID for this software and went to great lengths to include it on the CDs, are they now trying to claim they had no idea what they were doing?

Mike
http://quicktrivia/ [quicktrivia]
-Built on 100% FOSS!-

$12,000,000 is peanuts. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837065)

Being able to pass the blame to someone else is priceless.

Re:$12,000,000 is peanuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837393)

Hold your anti-Sony bashing for a moment and consider this: it would have been irresponsible if Sony didn't go after those who made the defective software and allowed them to go unpunished.

Re:$12,000,000 is peanuts. (4, Insightful)

miro f (944325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837463)

maybe Sony should sue themselves? =)

I don't think Sony should be the ones suing them, they contracted the software, and it was delivered to their specifications. Sony can't blame the people who wrote the software for doing what was asked.

If Sony didn't know what the software was doing then it's their own stupid fault.

If the software was illegal, then it's surely a matter for criminal court, and surely Sony shouldn't be awarded damages for being stupid enough to have this software written in the first place

Its Worms Vs. Birds (1)

neoshroom (324937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837731)

New York-based Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, declined to elaborate on the suit. Sony BMG is home to names such as Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood and Modest Mouse.

Modest Mouse
Worms. vs Birds


Self pity me, it's so pitiful
You can see that birds and worms don't get along
Self-righteous me, it's so wrong and
You can see that we don't have to get along
Self pity me, it's so pitifull
You can see that birds and worms do not agree
And we will crawl
(Will crawl)

Sony = Bird
DRM = Worm

No, scratch that.

Sony = Bird
You = Worm

Much better.

___
Expert Grant Writing for Non-profits and Businesses [grantgorilla.com]

Responsibility (5, Insightful)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837069)

Seems to me like the responsibility for the functioning of a product should fall upon the distributor. Of course, you could ask if Sony is suing more for the money or as a PR measure to try to shrug off some of the blame for the whole debacle.

Re:Responsibility (5, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837155)

Sony was responsible for distribution to the public.

Now they are trying to hold someone responsible for distributing to them.

Re:Responsibility (2, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837279)

That seems proper if you ask me.

Re:Responsibility (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837643)

I think the real question is what exactly did Sony ask for from this firm. If Sony gave a vague description, then I think both would be to blame. If Sony gave a very verbose description, and all the offending stuff was added by the firm for whatever reason, then sure I think they should sue. If, however, the firm built it to Sony's description, then obviously they have next to no liability (maybe accessory to crime or negligence).

From me weak understanding of corporate politics and keeping in step with the Slashdot tradition of forming an "expert" opinion based on no facts, I believe that the firm built it to Sony's description, but Sony will now conveniently lose their documents and will refute the authenticity of any documents the firm brings to the table. . .

Re:Responsibility and Rat Poison - a war of words (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837653)

Correct, but the lawsuits should end with the company that decided to use it as a weapon (Meeting minutes will be subpoenaed to determine this, I am certain)otherwise, the lawsuits never end. Next up? Microsoft... they distributed the OS. Intel and AMD make the CPUs which executed the ugly code. Then I suppose they'll sue God next for making bits? This is silly. If Sony knew that a rootkit was being distributed, then they are as responsible as the company which made the rootkit -- IMO, more so because they were putting the product to malicious use. If Sony simply bought a black-box "copy protection system" and the supplier made the decision to include the rootkit, then they are mostly responsible. But Sony is responsible to its customers, just as the copy protection provider is responsible to its customers. Why? Because rootkits are legitimate products. It's how they are used which determines liability.

Now, let's talk about rat poison.
Rat poison is also a product which has a legitimate, obvious use. However, if a restaurant serves it in my tea, that is a criminal act. The restaurant is responsible if they added it, or had knowledge that it was in the tea (even if they did not prepare the drink). However if the restaurant can prove I'm a rat then they can get away with serving rat poison to me. So it is with the current media companies. They are charging that their customers are actually rats (ahem, "pirates") who must be fed a steady diet of poison to control their numbers (as if the music and mindless movies weren't poison enough, but I digress!) If RIAA/MPAA can prove we're all rats, they can get away with this sort of negligent behaviour. Not on their own in a free market, mind you, because no consumer would choose these crap products, but if the **AA can force legislation and regulation which mandates copy control, or better yet ban free and open standards, the end of "first sale" doctrine, disassemble "fair use" and/or other nefarious restrictions, they have in effect convinced the lawmakers we are rats and must be controlled.

Only one solution: Quit buying their shite and they'll quit buying legislators.

Re:Responsibility (5, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837221)

It was Sony's responsibility. Hence they were sued by the consumers for it. However, if the company provided Sony with software that was not fully functional (overly functional?) without disclosing it, it's definitely court time. The PR certainly doesn't hurt though.

Re:Responsibility (2, Insightful)

jbreckman (917963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837287)

It seems like they are bringing to the public light again. Most people I know have forgotten about this debacle (or never knew about it to begin with). If I was Sony, I'd try to bury the rootkit fiasco as much as possible, not have a large public lawsuit.

Seems like really bar PR. But then again, it IS Sony.

Re:Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837365)

Using your logic, Dell, HP, Walmart et al, are all responsible for the millions of spambots running on windows machines. Which is rather odd, seeing as microsoft's faulty product is largely to blame.

Re:Responsibility (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837423)

It really depends on whether the producer of the copy-protection was upfront about how their product worked. If Sony has been properly informed of how it worked or if such information was readily available to them (i.e. whitepapers), they haven't got a chance in hell. Either way I'd expect a company of Sony's scale to put in the due diligence to ensure the products they buy are without legal issues.

Re:Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837555)

Depends on how the product was presented to them. It may simply have been sold as an 'effective copy protection method for CDs'

I bet they knew but didn't understand (5, Interesting)

jjeffrey (558890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837071)

I'd be prepared to put money on Sony losing this case. I'm sure we've all seen this sort of thing before. Media Max will have warned Sony that the approach had problems, they will have a mail chain demonstrating that, but Sony's management will have bullishly insisted on the security features it offered while ignoring or not bothering to understand the warnings it contained about the risks. What are the chances even their own technical advisors internally warned against it?

If upper management even saw it. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837177)

Media Max will have warned Sony that the approach had problems, they will have a mail chain demonstrating that, but Sony's management will have bullishly insisted on the security features it offered while ignoring or not bothering to understand the warnings it contained about the risks.

You're assuming management even saw the warnings. At least the managers that had the power to make a change. I don't know about you, but there's a been few times when I tried bringing problems up to management and the answer I received was, "I don't care; just get it done!"
Management wasn't even concerned. And in this case, those emails probably stopped at the tech lead or the first line manager and he didn't say anything to protect his ass.

Re:If upper management even saw it. (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837495)

You're probably right, but whether the mails died at the techs or went all the way up to the CEO, either way it's Sony that's in the frame for it, not Media Max.

Unless of course Media Max kept quiet about the potential problems (or didn't realise, or whatever) I really can't see Sony winning this.

Re:I bet they knew but didn't understand (5, Informative)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837211)

That's the first thing that came to my mind--it's ridiculous for Sony to claim that they had no idea what it was going to do or that they actually thought nobody would care. Remember what Sony president Tony Hesse said about it back in late 2005?

http://www.betanews.com/article/Sony_President_Roo tkit_of_No_Concern/1131475197 [betanews.com]

Suuuuuure, Tony. That kind of flip attitude about it will not be exactly convincing.

Re:I bet they knew but didn't understand (2, Informative)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837333)

Though I like your link, I like this one [rinkworks.com] more, just because Hesse's infamous remark is now enshrined in a fitting place (bottom of page).

Re:I bet they knew but didn't understand (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837457)

Meh. Who here hasn't dealt with a vendor salesperson claiming their product is the best product ever, and that it has no side effects, whitens teeth, takes out the trash, clears up your skin, etc? Saying that Sony should have been completely aware of the software specifics of a piece of code they brought from a third party, a piece of code that they were almost certainly not even allowed to review, is disingenuous.

Remember that Sony music is completely separate from the software part of the company...There is no guarantee that anyone in music there is technically competent to weigh in on this sort of thing at the management level.

I also doubt they'll be able to recover anything, but not because I believe that the software was accurately represented to them, but instead because they probably signed away most of their rights to sue just like everyone else does when they contract to us a piece of software.

Re:I bet they knew but didn't understand (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837539)

Saying that Sony should have been completely aware of the software specifics of a piece of code they brought from a third party, a piece of code that they were almost certainly not even allowed to review.

I've never worked for a company that would purchase an unknown product without first reviewing it. Especially when it is a large company like Sony doing the buying, and building it into products that they are selling under their own brand there is no way I can see that happening.

Re:I bet they knew but didn't understand (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837603)

Oh sure, you look at it. You check to make sure it works, and isn't too hard to install. I've worked for a lot of companies; if you buy software, and it works, you just assume it's doing what it's supposed to be doing, and doesn't have a massive glaring security flaw.

The whole point of buying it, is so you don't have to develop it yourself.

Like a celebrity deathmatch... (2, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837075)

Watching this will be like watching a celebrity deathmatch between Kim Jong Il & George W Bush.

You're hoping there's some way both will lose.

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837167)

Christ almighty. I don't think much of Bush, and the sooner he's gone the better. But that is so starkly ignorant, self-satisfied and narrow-minded as to beggar belief. Have you any idea what Kim Jong Il is about and what life in North Korea is like? You'd be lucky to get enough to eat never mind slobbing out on a sofa in the US with super-sized fast food and beer and feeling pleased with whatever ignorant and narrow-minded socio-political ideas please you.

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837239)

Your post indicates that you think I equate Bush & Kim Il. I dont. I just hope they both lose (in a celebrity deathmatch).

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837341)

Sorry, on some level you already have by saying you'd rathar not see either "win", which in and of itself is an ignorant statement. You post is akin to saying both the jay-walker and the mass-murderer deserve the death penalty. Because, hey, both are bad.

When you use the same rhetoric for both of them, you automatically group them together as morally the same.

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837379)

both the jay-walker and the mass-murderer deserve the death penalty. Because, hey, both are bad.


both Kim & bush are mass-murderers.

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837441)

A comment like that seems to suggest you can't differentiate between self defense and a psycho running though a mall with an UZI.

But go ahead and yet your political bias blind you, I'm sure you'll be happier when your required to bow to a picture of Kim.

Funny thing the rhetoric comment went right over your head.

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837567)

A comment like that seems to suggest you can't differentiate between self defense and a psycho running though a mall with an UZI.

The invasion of Iraq was not self defense. If defense is to be used it is in the defense of personal interests: oil, but it still remains an invasion.

If Kim Jong Il Were President (-1, Offtopic)

tjstork (137384) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837247)

As much as you don't like George W Bush, you might want to rethink that. If Kim Jong Il won and became the President of the USA:

a) Anyone that criticized the Great Leader, via Internet, Phone, or even in a Public Place, or around a family member that supported him, would find themselves in a concentration camp and gradually worked to death.

b) The economy of the United States would completely collapse to a failed agrarian state. There would be no electricity, transportation, or food. Millions of people would starve. There would be no private companies. Instead of Apple vs Microsoft, there would be a single Kim Jong Il Glorious Operating System.

c) Adjusted for comparitive GDP, the US Military would have a budget of around 2 trillion dollars a year. Oh, and we would all be drafted up, yielding a standing army of around 10 to 20 million men under arms. What we do with that army? Well, forget about a war to liberate Iraq from Saddam, the USA would, under Kim Jong Il, have created an empire by conquering Canada and Mexico and probably into the south.

d) Pictures of Kim Jong Il would be on the currency and all documents. There would be no hollywood stars, or media or celebrity watch, becuase there could only be one celebrity, the Great Leader.

e) We would be in year 90, or something like that, as the calendar would be based on the anniversary of North Korea's original leader.

After that, it only gets worse.

http://www.stat.ualberta.ca/people/schmu/nk.html [ualberta.ca]

Take the time to have some understanding of what real dictators are, before you start comparing US Presidents to them.

I invite you to have a look at:

Re:If Kim Jong Il Were President (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837405)

As much as you don't like George W Bush, you might want to rethink that. If Kim Jong Il won and became the President of the USA:

Jeepers! Did you read my post? I said I hope they both lose a celebrity deathmatch.

You notice that at no point do I express my wish for Kim Jong Il to win anything, let alone the presidency of the most-armed-to-the-teeth country on the planet.

Re:If Kim Jong Il Were President (3, Insightful)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837435)

You had me until:

There would be no hollywood stars, or media or celebrity watch,
At which point I start thinking about acceptable trade-offs...

[/joke]

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837251)

Yeah, because the two are *so* comparable (sarcasm).

One starves his own people while developing nuclear weapons, makes owning a cell phone illegal and punishable by imprisonment in a work camp, publically executes "traitors" and shoots people who try to leave the country.

Last time I checked you weren't required to have a picture of Bush in your house and bow to it...

Bush is no picnic but sometimes I wonder about you kids and your perception of reality...

Re:Like a celebrity deathmatch... (1)

Hungry Admin (703839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837327)

Kim Jong Il is a Goauld!

Better send in SG-1.

Compare their effects on the West (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837665)

Kim Jong Il is a very nasty piece of work, but thankfully he doesn't affect my country (which is not the US) currently, and this is true for most western countries.

In contrast, Bush's policies affect my country disastrously, in hundreds of ways. That makes Bush far worse than Kim Jong Il, in a practical sense.

Like the OP said though, neither one of them should come out of that deathmatch alive, as they're both a disaster for the world. Pity that it can only happen in our dreams.

The enemy of our enemy... (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837091)

The enemy of our enemy is still our enemy. In this case let them fight it out, and hopefully in the future all parties involved (content producers, technology developers, etc) will be too scared of financial damages to do something this stupid again.

This is actually a very good thing, because no-one involved will be immune to the consequences.

Dan East

Zero chance (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837315)

The politicians will pass a law that holds these companies blameless, just like they pass laws that hold themselves blameless.

Why stop there? (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837095)

To bad they can't sue the guys who made AACS [wikipedia.org] (since they're part of the consortium). I wonder if they'll be able to sue the people who developed BD+ [cryptography.com] , once that gets owned.

Sony lawyers are shocked and surprised. (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837099)

In a recent development the lawyers of Sony were bewildered. None of the documents they had on their computers relating to the contract and negotiations with MediaMax could be found in their computers. The lawyes were muttering, "cant believe it. I know I saved those emails and pdfs right in the hard disk. Where the hell could they be hiding?".

Sony lawyers, minutes later (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837713)

were dismayed despite "discovering" their original documents. Sadly they discovered, the documents did not prove Sony's innocence. In fact it became quickly evident that Sony had been in the wrong all along, according to all evidence.

Re:Sony lawyers are shocked and surprised. (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837739)

“Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” — Thomas Hesse, President, Global Digital Business, Sony BMG Music Entertainment

Well, Tom, I think you’re about to find out. Have a nice day, now!

Re:Sony lawyers are shocked and surprised. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837769)

Where the hell could they be hiding?

Next to Carl Rove's email folder on the rnc.org mail server?

Time to [try to] save face.. (2, Insightful)

jschroering (611063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837105)

I fully believe Sony knew what they were getting in to with this company. Sony also knew that if anything went wrong (like it did), they'd be able to easily sue this company which is a fraction of it's size.

Sony isn't earning any points back with me on this one..

Taking responsibility (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837107)

I want both Sony and MediaMax to suffer greatly. (It's ok for Sony to survive imho, but MediaMax should probably die and have its fields salted.)

But isn't this a bit like a bank robber who shoots a cop suing Smith and Wesson? E.g., it sounds like Sony knew (or should have known) exactly what it was putting on their CDs.

Re:Taking responsibility (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837217)

The most important thing about it, how many more such companies will ever sign a contract with Sony again, fearing that if the big S find their work lacking "IT'S LITIGATION TIME!".

Good To Be a Code Monkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837117)

Must be great to be a simple programmer at that company. Make software that you know is defective and potentially harmful, and get paid anyway. Anything happens, and you can just claim the 'I was following orders' defence and get away with it.

I do hope someone at management level gets in a lot of trouble for that. No wonder software these days is always sold 'without warranty'

Now, any takers if some real 'software engineers' that is real engineers would have even undertaken such a project? I doubt it.

Re:Good To Be a Code Monkey (1)

miro f (944325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837557)

If the stuff you write is illegal, then yes, you should be punished for it.

However, the guy who asked you to do it shouldn't be paid the damages.

Re:Good To Be a Code Monkey (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837595)

Writing a root kit isn't illegal though. In fact I can't think of one piece of software that is illegal. It's how you use it that makes it illegal.

Using a gun in self defense is legal. Using a gun to murder someone is illegal. Creating the gun is legal.

Re:Good To Be a Code Monkey (1)

miro f (944325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837765)

DeCSS?

There's an idea! (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837127)

All those landmines I buried in my front lawn made me look like a total psychopath when they blew up all those postal carriers, girl scouts, and neighborhood cats. Apparently, I can restore my status as a fine upstanding member of the community by simply suing the manufacturer of said landmines!

Re:There's an idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837481)

Only if the 'mines' were sold to you as a picket fence...

Re:There's an idea! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837763)

All those landmines I buried in my front lawn made me look like a total psychopath

You must be living in some sort of weird neighbourhood. It is considered normal around here, in the Anwar province of Iraq

the path to better software... maybe (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837129)

In a free (for various definitions of free) market we will only get well developed software when the majority of consumers quit accepting the current state of software quality.

Maybe this kind of lawsuit will help set precedents for software maker fear of litigation for poor quality software.

I know this is tangential, but so is case law.

Re:the path to better software... maybe (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837487)

Nobody is saying the MediaMax software was of poor quality, but rather that it had ill intentions. I can build the most bug free system in the world, but if it allows MS/Sony/Redhat to spy on your every move or completely control what you can do with your computer, then it's probably not the kind of software that you want installed on your system, or even being produced. I think criminal charges and jail time for the people from these companies (Sony and Mediamax) responsible for the production and distribution of this software would be in good order, and would go a long way to stop things like this from happening in the future. Monetary penalties don't mean much to billion dollar companies.

Worms. vs Birds (2, Interesting)

neoshroom (324937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837137)

New York-based Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, declined to elaborate on the suit. Sony BMG is home to names such as Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood and Modest Mouse.

Modest Mouse
Worms. vs Birds


Self pity me, it's so pitiful
You can see that birds and worms don't get along
Self-righteous me, it's so wrong and
You can see that we don't have to get along
Self pity me, it's so pitifull
You can see that birds and worms do not agree
And we will crawl
(Will crawl)

Let's have a closer look at that business plan (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837145)

Step 1. Outsource programming of a rootkit
Step 2. Release rootkit to the public
Step 3. Get sued by the public
Step 4. Sue company that you originally contracted to write you a rootkit
Step 5. ?
Step 6. Come up smelling of roses

Re:Let's have a closer look at that business plan (2, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837265)

Step 5. Make sure your Killzone 2 E3 trailer very closely matches the 2005 CGI trailer.

In all seriousness though, if you pay someone to write you some software and it fucks up, whose fault is it? Theirs for not testing it, or yours for not testing it again?

Maybe we'll see another article in a couple of days:

Rootkit Maker sues QA company...

Re:Let's have a closer look at that business plan (2, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837475)

if you pay someone to write you some software and it fucks up, whose fault is it? Theirs for not testing it, or yours for not testing it again?
This would be relevant for unintentional errors. But this rootkit, as far as I understood, performed just as designed. It was an intentional nastiness, and that nasty intention was shared by both Sony and the software company.

A better analogy would be: if you pay a hitman to rid you of your nemesis, and he gets caught, who will go to jail? The answer: both you and the hitman...

Re:Let's have a closer look at that business plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837407)

Yes, but where is the profit in all that?

Yeah!!! (1)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837149)

What a pleasure to watch a fight between two assholes: in either case, you win!

Re:Yeah!!! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837499)

What a pleasure to watch a fight between two assholes: in either case, you win!
Yes, because it's the banana that loses. It ends up all squishy...

Blood Suckers (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837153)

Last fall, the company agreed to pay a total of $5.75 million to settle the litigation and resolve investigations by officials in several states.

Sony BMG is seeking to recover some $12 million in damages from the Phoenix-based technology company, according to court papers filed July 3.
$12 million > $5.75 million

Will the real victims here (the customers) see this extra cash?

The Sony Corporation
Making cash off of their customer misfortunes since 1946

Re:Blood Suckers (1)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837291)

lawyer bills + damage to "good name" + 5.75 million = 12 million ?

Re:Blood Suckers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837363)

lawyer bills + damage to "good name"
Yeah, nice try there. See, when you fuck up like Sony did, I think the above things should be penalties you incur. I'll bet that the people they subcontracted told them precisely what they were doing to the media and I'm sure Sony agreed.

You can see this as either Sony trying to clear their name or Sony finding a scapegoat while turning a profit at the same time. Which is more likely though?

At some point you just need to own up and admit you made a mistake. Sony is in charge of their products, not this MediaMax company. Sony does quality control, this is in all likelihood Sony's fault.

Defective by Design (5, Informative)

Synchis (191050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837157)

Yet another great example of a Product with DRM being Defective by Design! Join the movement: Defective By Design [defectivebydesign.org]

Sony suing a rootkit maker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837165)

Must be for patent infringement.

But didn't they read the Click-through EULA? (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837169)

...that they do not warrant nor guarantee this software to be suitable for any function or use, especially for that which it was designed? That they agree to indemnify (love that word, it means you can't sue or hold responsible) the seller or maker of the software for any reason at all?

Sony (1)

Jaaay (1124197) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837175)

is just shifting the blame. It's a black stain on their record that they put a virus on peoples computers. Now they can say that it was someone elses fault regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit. It's surprising they waited this long to say "someone else made this, we're all so innocent here, let's sue these bad bad guys".

Let me be the first to say... (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837181)

Let me be the first to say that this is completely stupid. Nobody forced Sony to put that software on the CDs, and I wouldn't doubt that Sony knew exactly what they were doing when they put that software on the CDs. If they didn't, well then, it's their own fault. Having them pass the blame on to the company that made this software just make me hate Sony even more. Sony has done so many braindead things in the past couple of years that it's no wonder that Nintendo stock rose above theirs, if only for a short while. From rootkits, to $600+ consoles, to sueing the people who sold them the rootkit, I just can't imagine what they'll do next.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying I hate them because they released a $600+ console ( + because it's even more expensive once you buy a game and a second controller) but what I'm saying is that it's a really boneheaded idea, and I don't know how they ever thought it would have mass appeal, no matter how good the graphics are.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837497)

Regardless of our biases, Sony has a good cause of action here. The company sold Sony a lock, and Sony sold the lock relying on the company's representations that it worked, and was safe to use. Then the lock exploded and blew the customer's houses up. Sony paid up, and now it's suing the provider for product liability.

The interesting angle here is that a software manufacturer is being held responsible for the failures of its software. It would be interesting if this suit was allowed.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837761)

The question is whether or not Sony knew the lock was going to blow up before they sold it to their customers. The software didn't fail. It worked exactly as intended. And Sony knew how it was going to work. They decided to use it anyway.

sony dummies? (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837207)

So Sony is going to court and admitting that whoever set up this scheme from their end never asked, and was never told in writing that there might be some issues with this security scheme? All it's going to take is one document from the rootkit folks to sink this lawsuit. I'm assuming there's a paragraph somewhere saying "Our system is superb, but it has a few implementation details that might piss off every consumer"

So, let me guess (1)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837241)

With Sony, 'defective' == caught, busted, outed, 'not rootkit-y enough', et cetera.

Hmm. Makes sense to me. Lord knows the first thing I blamed when I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar was the company that made the step ladder.

In other news.... (-1, Redundant)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837243)

Man sues Smith & Wesson for the making gun he used to rob a liquor store.

Re:In other news.... (0, Offtopic)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837269)

Sigh. A perfectly good punchline ruined by awful grammar.

Berzerker!

Re:In other news.... (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837663)

Don't know. Liquor store was in a dry county, maybe? BTW. Moderator is tuff today.

this is a good thing (1)

revery (456516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837259)

No matter the outcome of the court case, this is probably a GoodThing(TM). The fact that DRM cost Sony millions of dollars and goodwill being splashed across the headlines will only make other companies more cautious when they consider taking similar steps.

I hope they read the shrinkwrapped EULA (1)

xystren (522982) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837273)

You know, the part that says you can't sue us, even if our products caused you damage? Even from gross negligence or our complete stupidity? LOL

Cheers
Xyst

I hope Sony read the EULA... (5, Funny)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837289)


"Section 938.334 Sub W.

By agreeing to use this product to proctect your music CD's from piracy you also agree to hold us immune from any lawsuits, incurred directly or indirectly, due to your customers not liking this product."


oops... Guess they should read those EULA's VERY CAREFULLY...

At least that is what these companies would say to us...

":{ Grr...

Re:I hope Sony read the EULA... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837501)

wow. do you really think you know this better then sony's well paid lawyers? give me a break. just another case of a pizza delivery boy thinking he can outwit the pros.

what this is saying is that sony can not sue them because sony is sued by a customer. it didn't say that sony doesn't have a right to sue them if the software doesn't work as intended.

learn to comprehend what you read before you jump the gun.

What I thought the headline should have read (0)

denverradiosucks (653647) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837349)

Am I the only one who thought he saw "Sony Sues Rootkit Maker for Copyright Infringement?"

Defective, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837395)

Has a suit ever been won for a claim of "defective technology"?


Also, is anyone else entertained by the fact that Sony is claiming DRM is defective technology? hah.

IT'S DEFECTIVE (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837399)

I think Sony has a case there. It was supposed to be a rootkit, and rootkits are usually impossible to find. Some "hackers" found it, so it obviously has to be defective. If it was working as advised, nobody would've found it.

Wait, did anyone here think Sony complained that it was a rootkit, and that this was the defect? Get real.

Re:IT'S DEFECTIVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837531)

I agree 100%. Using a rootkit is the only way such copy protection could possibly work.

I think Sony is now trying to use the same defense as smokers when suing tobacco companies.
"Nobody told me rootkits are dangerous."

Calculated Risk and Plausibile Deniability (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837449)

IMHO

Eleven steps to fun and profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837589)

1. Record musician
2. Buy rootkit
3. Install rootkit on music CD
4. Sell CDs
5. Infect customers with rootkit
6. Be sued by attorneys general
7. Be sued by customers
8. Lose many, many formerly faithful customers who were burned by rootkit (like me for instance)
9. ???????????
10. Sue rootkit developer
11. Profit!

More seriously, three questions:
1. When is Sony going to give me the money (including my time) it cost me to repair my PC after my daughter infected it with their rootkit?
2. Why in the HELL did nobody go to prison for this? If I installed rootkits on their computers you can bet your ass I'd be in the slammer!
3. Why in the HELL is this company still in business? After infecting MUSIC CDs with rootkits people still buy their COMPUTERS!!! WTF??? And I thought Microsoft and SCO were evil! They're pikers when it comes to being EVIL.

-mcgrew [mcgrew.info]

lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19837593)

I hope they both lose.

Long term consequences (1)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837601)

There may be some good to come out of this.

If they sue MediaMax, this starts a ripple wave throughout the industry that scares off companies considering the DRM business only to discover the liability of your customer(s) suing you.

So this hampers development of DRM technology. What sane company would go into business with a mega-corp that ligitates their suppliers?

With DRM hampered, this reduces the effectiveness of copyright. Go Sony!

say no to DRM jobs (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837605)

This is why as a general rule I don't approve, seek, or enjoy working on DRM related tasks. Fortunately, my job [sw developer at a crypto firm] rarely involves me working on DRM at all.

In 10 years we won't even have DRM anymore as more and more of the public wakes up and turns against DRM [especially DRM that makes their lives harder than they need to be].

Tom

Have you guys actually been boycotting Sony? (2, Interesting)

Micah (278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837621)

Just a question I've been wanting to ask for a while. How much has this whole rootkit debacle caused you to avoid Sony products?

Shortly after it happened, I promised myself I would buy nothing with a Sony brand for at least a year. To my knowledge, I complied with that (though they do have tentacles in more things than you think, so who knows). I figured I need to end the boycott after a year, or else there wouldn't be any incentive for them to change anyway. I still haven't bought anything major from Sony -- the very name SONY screams to me "infected millions of PCs with rootkits, and tries to take away my Freedom!" But enough time has passed that I would probably consider buying a Sony product if it really were the right one for me.

How about you?

Let them eat each other. It's all Sony's fault. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837659)

The company that made the technoogy cant be held responsible for Sony's willingness to distribute the technology to the masses. Sony knew exactly what it was, and this company will prove it.

Personal irresponsibility goes corporate (0, Offtopic)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19837791)

One of the great blights (IMHO) of American society is the decay of personal reponsibility. "It's not my fault, they should have told me the hot coffee was hot!". This slide was led (again IMHO) by the Democratic leaders of the 80s & 90s, who insisted that crime and other problems were the failure of the system, the failure of the society - individuals were not to blame. The outcome of this is an increase in frivolous lawsuits [overlawyered.com] . Another problem seems to be an increase in "syndromes", where people blame hastily invented, acronymic illnesses or syndromes for the problems cause by poor parenting or minor behavioral deviations. "Oh, you'll have to make special allowances for my son. He's got FCLBMS (Food Consumption Leading to Bowel Movement Syndrome)". People do weird things, theres no need to create a disease for every little tick. I do not mean to discount or diminish actual mental health issues like ADHD, but hey folks, life is tough, get over it.
Sony is just showing what happens when this lack of responsibility reaches the boardroom. They're the first, they won't be the last.
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