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 News.com, 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.