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11/10/2005
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Sony Sued For Rootkit Copy Protection

Sony BMG Music Entertainment has been hit with at least one class-action lawsuit over its rootkit-as-copy-protection software. The lawsuit claims the software violates two anti-fraud statutes, as well as a third law forbidding placement of spyware in a computer.

One class-action lawsuit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment has been filed in California, and more are expected as lawyers enter the Sony rootkit-as-copy-protection fray.

Attorney Alan Himmelfarb filed a suit in Los Angeles County Court last week on behalf of Alexander Guevara. The lawsuit claims that Sony BMG's copy-protection technology -- dubbed XCP, for eXtended Copy Protection by its maker, U.K.-based First4Internet -- violates two anti-fraud statutes and a third that forbids anyone placing spyware on a computer.

California's Consumer Protection Against Spyware Act, which was made law over a year ago, forbids "the taking control of a consumer's computer, modifying computer settings, and the prevention of a user's efforts to block or disable software," according to the papers Himmelfarb filed. "Sony's rootkit program violated each of these prohibitions."

Sony has been under increasing fire for concealing the XCP files with a hacker-style rootkit, and making it nearly impossible to remove the copy protection from a PC once installed. Some security vendors, noticeably Computer Associates' PestPatrol group, have blacklisted XCP as spyware.

Himmelfarb's class-action lawsuit requests that Sony be prevented from using XCP and that compensation -- to be decided later -- be made to all buyers of the protected CDs. The suit also asks that any Sony profits on CDs sold in California be turned over to the class-action members.

Another lawyer, Scott Kamber of New York, has told the Washington Post that he plans to file a class-action suit against Sony BMG for its use of a rootkit. "What Sony is saying with this software is that 'Our intellectual property is more deserving of protection than your intellectual property,'" Kamber told the Post.

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