Sony Root Kit

November 14th, 2005

I know this is old news, but it keeps getting better and better. As you may know by now, a couple of weeks ago Mark Russinovich discovered something called a Rootkit was installed on his Windows PC. A rootkit is something used to hide pieces of software from the operating system, often used by bad guys to hide the activities of viruses and such. Mark is the Chief Software Architect at Sysinternals, a company that makes a bunch of really useful under-the-hood Windows utilities – probably not a guy who can be easily tricked into installing this kind of spooky evil software. He tracked down its source, and discovered that it came from the copy protection on a music CD he had bought from Sony (this is one of those CDs that you can’t just play in your computer, you have to install the special “piracy-proof” player first). This top secret cloak of invisibility leaves a security hole that can be easily exploited, not to mention it’s kind of creepy to think about some hidden Sony software skulking around in the shadows doing who knows what on your computer. Mark posted about it, there was outrage, and Sony responded by offering an uninstaller, which apparently doesn’t work so well and may also cause other problems. Molly Wood from CNET wrote a nice piece about why this is bad, so instead of me recapping that here, you should just read it. There’s also some hilariously restrictive language in the Sony end user license agreement.

Now it comes to light that this anti-copyright-infringement software may actually infringe on someone’s copyright (original post via BoingBoing) . It looks like the Sony software uses the LAME music encoder, which is open-source software – anyone is allowed to use this code for free provided they indicate in the copyright notice that they are doing so, and publish the source code they used to implement it. Sony didn’t do this.

John McKay was quoted in the Times today saying “The consumer experience is our primary concern…” in reference to this whole cocked-up situation. I say bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit you money-grubbing, hypocritical douchebags. I find this whole thing offensive for so many reasons, but most of all because it’s just so stupid. Stealing music is wrong, artists should be compensated, but once more, say it with me, DRM is not the answer. This has annoyed legitimate consumers who actually bought a CD, but it sure as hell hasn’t stopped any piracy – for crying out loud, the whole thing can be disabled by holding the Shift key down when you put the CD in your computer.

Sony, the biggest threat to your bottom line is not the people who buy your music and make copies of it for their friends, it’s the fucktards who told you this was a good idea. I’m sorry, but your industry does not deserve to survive this evolution, you are just too stupid. The rest of us will figure out how to get to the future without you.

9 Responses to “Sony Root Kit”

  1. Erik says:

    oooh snap! I need to check out these articles. Thanks

  2. Nobody says:

    Hmmm, when I saw the rootkit installed on my PC, I just assumed I got it from playing “Smoking Monkey”. ;-)

  3. Nancy says:

    Unreal. They were saying on TWIT that it also creates a security hole in Windows, already a security nightmare. I can only hope that Macs keep their tiny market share.

  4. Jesus Christ! And not the good kind. (

  5. David says:

    You are so right. I just discovered your work, and love it. I bought a couple of iTunes songs, and am quite happy. Now, if you had been insistent that you had to control the end-user experience the way Sony is, I never would have found or purchased your stuff.

    Thanks for being one of the good guys.

    -David

  6. PDubya says:

    Nancy,

    Some versions of the DRM encrusted CDs actually have a Mac version too. Granted, it’s really obvious that the CD is trying to install something in lieu of the autorun’n Windows version.

    Regardless, Mr. Coulton says it best…

    “…you are just too stupid. The rest of us will figure out how to get to the future without you.”

    Sony, and all of the rest of you **AA idiots, this is only the beginning of your slow undoing. FINALLY the regular population is catching wind of how crazy the legislature and crapware you’re trying to shove down our throats for the past few years. Unfortunately, it’s taken this issue to get the politicians to stop listening to corporations for a few minutes, and turn on their heels to listen to the public outrage. It took something like this to get people screaming loud enough – and people are tired of the companies thinking they have the right to do whatever they want to protect their “intellectual property”, even if it means basically taking complete control over someone’s machine.

    I for one PRAY this is a turning point for many discussions and changes to come. Thanks JC for saying your peace.

  7. Alex says:

    Man, this is 2008 and I just searched for ‘rootkit’ on my PC…
    Maybe I should get that detection program Mark Russinovich used to search….

  8. Alex (Not the same as that other one) says:

    So.

    Who else got to this page by searching “Molly”?

    <_<