PCWorld: Winners and Losers of 2005. On a fairly evenhanded list (both Apple and Google are listed as both winners and losers), Sony BMG manages the distinction of being cited as a loser. Twice.
LOSER: Sony BMG Entertainment
Adding copy protection to CDs is onerous enough, but Sony BMG Entertainment and its tech partner First 4 Internet went completely beyond the pale. Insert certain Sony BMG CDs into your PC’s disc drive and they would secretly install First 4 Internet’s XCP software, which not only limited the number of copies you could make, but also made your system vulnerable to hack attacks. Sony BMG then posted a “fix” that made matters worse, before issuing a recall of the music CDs, offering refunds, and promising to discontinue using XCP. It turns out the record company knew about the vulnerability for at least two weeks before blogger Mark Russinovich made the news public last Halloween. Thanks for sharing, Sony.
EXTREME LOSER: Sony BMG Entertainment
Researchers at Information Security Partners recently identified a security flaw with SunnComm’s MediaMax, an alternative copy-protection scheme found on other Sony BMG CDs. The flaw could allow a remote attacker to hijack a user’s PC. This time, Sony responded with a patch almost immediately–which was quickly found to have the exact same flaw. Can you say “consumer boycott?”
Why yes, we can. Although around here, we pronounce that customer boycott. A consumer is a gullet that gulps products and craps cash, in the famous formulation, and I hope this whole episode has demonstrated that we customers are much more than just a gullet.