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  • The only surprise is that it wasn’t Number 1

    January 3rd, 2007

    PC World: The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time. The article covers 50 tech products that were so egregiously bad that they made the Hall of Shame for all time. Our favorite—Sony BMG music CDs—hit at number 5 on the list, behind AOL, the 1999 version of RealPlayer, Syncronys SoftRAM, and Windows ME. PC World’s write-up of our favorite rootkit vendor says:

    When you stick a music CD into your computer, you shouldn’t have to worry that it will turn your PC into a hacker’s plaything. But that’s exactly what Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s music discs did in 2005. The discs’ harebrained copy protection software installed a rootkit that made it invisible even to antispyware or antivirus software. Any moderately clever cyber attacker could then use the same rootkit to hide, say, a keylogger to capture your bank account information, or a remote-access Trojan to turn your PC into a zombie.

    Security researcher Dan Kaminsky estimated that more than half a million machines were infected by the rootkit. After first downplaying the problem and then issuing a “fix” that made things worse, Sony BMG offered to refund users’ money and replace the faulty discs. Since then, the record company has been sued up the wazoo; a federal court judge recently approved a settlement in the national class action suit. Making your machine totally vulnerable to attacks–isn’t that Microsoft’s job?

    Another shoe: Sony BMG and the 39-State Settlement

    December 22nd, 2006

    Well, when it rains it pours: Sony BMG just agreed to a settlement that covers 39 of the other states that sued over its hijinks with XCP and MediaMax—this hot on the heels of Sony’s settlement of the California and Texas suits earlier this week. Some notes on the breakout of the payments is mentioned on CNet (from the AP), indicating that the lead states will see the lion’s share of the $4.25 million, but still only $316,538 goes to each of the 13 lead states in the settlement.

    As for the rest of the states, I’m not sure why they bothered for $5,000 apiece. That’s not going to go very far toward fixing computers rendered inoperable by Sony’s spyware, or even very far in free CDs.

    The “long tail” of Sony BMG lawsuits: settlements

    December 20th, 2006

    Yahoo! News (AP): Sony BMG settles suit over CDs. The earlier news reports didn’t make clear that the suits in question were those brought by California and Texas; hat tip to BoingBoing for posting the pointer. The settlements cover both XCP and MediaMax claims.

    (Previous coverage on this blog for the California suit and Texas suits.)

    You know, even if I only post to this blog every time a suit is settled, it could still drag on for years…

    Son of Boycott Sony?

    October 24th, 2006

    I’ve received an email urging me to comment on the recent claims by import company Lik-Sang that Sony has put them out of business. On the face of it, Sony’s actions—they got a UK court to bar Lik-Sang and other importers from selling the Japanese version of the PSP—seem anticonsumer and anticompetitive. So why aren’t I jumping up and down with indignation?

    A few reasons why I might be a little indignant: first, region-specific products are evil, a scheme whereby multinationals exploit national borders as a convenient excuse to gouge customers in different countries and territories to the extent that the market will bear (and piracy is an even more transparent excuse). It’s wrong in the music industry, wrong in the DVD industry, and wrong in the electronics industry.

    Also, the language that Sony is using to justify its actions, to wit, taking the moral high ground on personally identifiable information about its customers, seems kind of … ironic.

    But there’s a