The BBC has an interesting piece up about Sony being sneaky:
Mr Russinovich, a renowned Windows programming expert, came across the Sony BMG anti-piracy system when performing a scan of his computer with a utility he co-created that spots so-called rootkits.
Rootkits are starting to be used by a small number of computer virus writers because they allow malicious code to be inserted deep inside the Windows operating system, meaning that it will not be spotted by most anti-virus scanners.
Rootkits are used to hide malicious software once it is installed and ensure it is not found and removed by anti-virus programs
After extensive analysis Mr Russinovich realised that the “cloaked” software had been installed when he first listened to the CD album Get Right With the Man CD by country rockers Van Zant.
No mention of Rootkits, according to Mr Russinovich, in the licensing agreement he signed when he stuck the CD in his computer to play it.
My attitude to all such things is that the market will decide, aided by the internet, which will spread stories like this around. People copying CDs illegally, and now Sony putting intrusive software on their CDs, seem to me to be opposite sides of the same coin, the coin being the unviability – so it now appears to me – of the old way of doing things in a new time. Moralists may curse, and maybe they will, here, again.
What Mr Russinovich presumably wants the market to decide is that Sony are, as this guy would put it, bastard people! And maybe it will. But maybe, instead, it will decide what Sony and most of the other Big Content and Electric Toy companies presumably want them to decide, which is not just not to copy CDs, but not, as a general rule, to allow pre-recorded CDs anywhere near their computers. That way CDs never get copied, and we all have to have two lots of Electric Toys, one lot to compute, and the other lot to play music and stuff. Although personally I do like to keep entertainment separate from computing, largely out of habit but also because when one breaks down I still want the other to work, I cannot see such separation really catching on.
For me, there is a certain irony in Sony, notable pioneers in cheap music copying technology and now leading the way in do it yourself movie making – ideal for sneaking into cinemas – now trying to make disc copying especially difficult and dangerous. I guess they of all people know how easy copying has now become.
Meanwhile, Adriana throws interesting light on the digital info-habits of the kind of people who will be e deciding the future of all this.