Settlements at hand

News on a sleepy post-Christmas day, courtesy the Washington Post’s Security Fix blog: Sony BMG has apparently agreed to settle the New York based class action lawsuit. Terms of the settlement include a permanent cessation of the use of XCP and MediaMax on Sony BMG CDs, a pledge not to collect personal information from customers who already have CDs with the affected DRM systems without an explicit opt-in, and settlement benefits to members of the class action suit including “clean” replacement CDs, free downloads, and cash payments. More nebulously, there is a requirement to “implement consumer-oriented changes in operating practices with respect to all CDs with content protection software that Sony BMG manufactures in the next two years.” The relief portion of the suit would take place immediately upon preliminary approval of the settlement. The Post says that PACER shows a hearing order that indicates that Sony BMG and the plaintiffs actually reached an agreement on the 27th.

This is certainly good news for Sony BMG, as it gets them out of the New York courts without drawing a lawsuit from the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, who has been making threatening throat clearing noises over Sony BMG’s conduct in the case. But without some teeth around “consumer-oriented changes” in Sony BMG DRM, I’m concerned that there will be no real changes. After all, XCP and MediaMax are hardly the only DRM technologies on the market.

One piece of good news: the settlement requires Sony BMG to pull MediaMax from the market just as it has already done with XCP.

Thanks to commenter Mike for the tip.

Update: another article at CNET, which clarifies a few points, including the note that purchasers of MediaMax CDs are not entitled to any cash, only to a free album download and MP3 versions of the tracks on the CD they purchased.

3 Responses to “Settlements at hand”

  1. Ken Nelson Says:

    A small victory, but a victory nonetheless. I agree that vigilance on the customer’s part is still key to the whole DRMadness.

    More here:

    I appreciate your keeping up with all the developments in this round.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Mark Lyon Says:

    I’ve got additional filings in the case online at

  3. Daniel Ward Says:

    Did I miss it in all of these articles, or has there been no mention of Sony BMG bein required to either pay for or provide a safe tool to remove this rootkit and it’s associated DRM software. To me, this is the key issue. If I had to pay a computer shop to repair my windows installation (thank god I can do that!) I would expect Sony to pay for that and for my lost productivity/loss of computer usage.

    And of course there will not be any statement by Sony along the lines of “We realize how badly we handled this from the start and will do our best to earn back our customers trust by trusting them”. Sorry Sony, the purchase order still says DENIED, INSUFFICIENT CREDIT!

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