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Thursday, November 10, 2005

This is totally off-topic but it isn't about the OC or celebrities or anything that would provide evidence of creeping Simmonsism. It's important though: Sony is the Devil.

To make a long story short, they've incorporated "digital rights management" software into a number of their CDs that secretly installs a program that hides itself from your operating system and cannot be uninstalled. If you hate geek crap, CNET has a layman's view that puts it in stark terms:

You buy a CD. You put the CD into your PC in order to enjoy your music. Sony grabs this opportunity to sneak into your house like a virus and set up camp, and it leaves the backdoor open so that Sony or any other enterprising intruder can follow and have the run of the place. If you try to kick Sony out, it trashes the place. And what does this software do once it's on your PC? Well, here is (via David Berlind's excellent breakdown of the issue) what Amazon's CD listing page has to say on the subject:

"This product limits your ability to make multiple digital copies of its content, and you will not be able to play this disc or make copies onto devices not listed as compatible. Content/copy protected CDs should allow limited burning, as well as ripping into secure Windows Media Audio formats for playback with most compatible media players and portable devices. In rare cases, these CDs may not be compatible with computer CD-ROM players, DVD players, game consoles, or car CD stereos, and often are not transferable to other formats like MP3."

So it's not just the black hat tactics. The DRM itself is almost unbelievably restrictive, and some have suggested that the reasoning behind it is part of Sony's ongoing war over digital music supremacy with the decidedly more supreme Apple.
Read the whole thing. It's righteously indignant as it should be.

So, real horns and everything. If you would like all the bloody details, Mark Russinovich has a series of posts that detail the process of discovery and Sony's insulting, idiotic, and duplicitous attempts to deny the obvious and hoodwink the public. Ironically, Sony is acting precisely like the digital pirates that put out backdoor-laden, music-stealing facilitators, as Mark points out:
The uninstall process Sony has put in place is on par with mainstream spyware and adware and is the topic of this blog post. ... Sony even gives those users like me that are aware of the “uninstaller” several hurdles to jump over. First you have to go to Sony’s support site, guess that the uninstall information is in the FAQ, click on the uninstall link and then fill out a form with your email address and purchasing information, possibly adding yourself to Sony’s marketing lists in the process.

Then, after you submit the information the site takes you to a page that notifies you that you’ll be receiving an email with a “Case ID”. A few minutes later you receive that email, which directs you to install the patch and then visit another page if you still really want to uninstall. That page requires you to install an ActiveX control, CodeSupport.Ocx, that’s signed by First 4 Internet, enter your case ID and fill in the reason for your request. Then you receive an email within a few minutes that informs you that a customer service representative will email you uninstall instructions within one business day.

When you eventually receive the uninstall email from Sony BMG support it comes with a cryptic link in the form[snip] (I’ve modified the link so it doesn’t work) to your personalized uninstall page. Interestingly, the email address has a confidentially notice, which implies to me that Sony has something to hide, and it informs you that the uninstaller will expire in one week.
The EFF has a list of the CDs they've identified that have this trojan on them (warning: Celine Dion fans are screwed!) and tips on identifying infected CDs. The general recommendation is: don't buy Sony CDs. If you know someone who is responsible for this, kick them in the nuts.Did I mention that Playstation 3 looks like a disaster?

Thus ends the offtopic portion of today's posts. Now I can return to the explosively controversial racial politics that we all know and love.