Sony’s bait and switch

Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten writes about Sony’s DRM “rootkit,” which it installed without really telling you, and notes that the “patch” the company provides to remove the rootkit (which Sony claims is harmless) is “more than 3.5 megabytes in size, and appears to contain new versions of almost all the files included in the initial installation of the entire DRM system, as well as creating some new files. In short, they’re not just taking away the rootkit-like function — they’re almost certainly adding things to the system as well. And once again, they’re not disclosing what they’re doing.” As put it: “Sorry about those secret files — what we meant to install were these secret files.” Ed also points to a commentary by law professor Eric Goldman in which he ponders whether Sony’s EULA (end user license agreement) adequately disclosed what the company was installing. If it didn’t, it could be liable for legal action. Even if it did, it’s a pretty stupid move from a marketing point of view.

Update: Mark over at got a response from the company that put together (badly, apparently) the rootkit software Sony’s CD installs, and they tried (and mostly failed) to rebut his criticisms of their kit and Sony’s behaviour.

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