22 November 2005

Son[y], Use Some Protection!

In the course of screwing its customers, Sony's copy protection failed. Not only is it inept, but even the Texas Attorney General has sued (PDF, 30k). Eliot Spitzer is probably gnashing his teeth at being upstaged! As the Texas AG's website notes,

Sony BMG claims on its Web site that this XCP technology merely prevents unlimited copying, is otherwise passive and does not gather personal information about a computer user. However, the Attorney General's investigation into this technology revealed that it remains hidden and active at all times after installation, even when Sony's media player is inactive, prompting concerns about its true purpose.

I suspect that the AG's "concerns about [the Sony rootkit's] true purpose" are well founded. Take a look at the list of albums that had been shipped including the XCP rootkit (PDF image file, 142kb). This was not aimed at the pimply-teenaged-kid/Napster/Grokster crowd. The Best of Shel Silverstein? Billy Holiday? Ray Charles? Neil Diamond? Pete Seeger? Burt Bacharach? Looking at the list as a whole, there is a common audience demographic lurking under it: It's not the sort of music popular among the technologically savvy. To put it another way, the dominant target demographic is not the 18–34 year old with disposable income (and no taste) that is beloved of popular entertainment. It is the casual computer user my age and older, which means "34? I've forgotten how long ago I was 34! I wasn't even a lawyer when I was 34!"1

To put things particularly crudely, Son[y], the condom broke post coitus. Not only didn't it do its job, but it was easy to spot and embarrassing. It also left an obvious mess behind that's difficult to clean up (ask Monica Lewinsky).

I have only one word/phrase to say to those who believe "copy protection" and "digital rights management" have any real value:


And if you don't recognize that term, you are probably in that 18–34 demographic.

  1. Obviously, I'm not in the target demographic. I'm too old; I have some taste (most of the albums listed do not represent the strongest work by the respective artists); and I've been online since about the time most 1Ls entering this fall were born.