Sony Suspends CD Copy Protection

Sony said it will, "as a precautionary measure," suspend manufacturing CDs using controversial XCP technology and re-examine its content protection initiative.
Sony BMG Music Entertainment on Friday announced that it would stop producing CDs with its controversial XCP copy-protection technology.

"As a precautionary measure, Sony BMG is temporarily suspending the manufacture of CDs containing XCP technology," the company -- a joint venture by Sony and Germany's Bertelsmann AG -- said in a statement. "We also intend to re-examine all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use."

The move came just a day after nearly every major security firm put out alerts that a Trojan horse was using the XCP (eXtended Copy Protection) software to hide malicious files. Thursday also saw news of a wave of class-action lawsuits filed or about to be filed against Sony for installing the hacker-style "rootkit" on users' PCs without their permission.

But even as it said it would defer using XCP, Sony remained defiant. "[We] swiftly provided a patch to all major anti-virus companies and to the general public that guards against precisely the type of virus now said to exist," Sony added in its statement.

Mark Russinovich, one of the original discovers of XCP's practice of installing a rootkit to hide its files from crackers, has called that patch into question, however, and shown that in some cases it can crash a computer during installation.

Sony also stood by its rights to copy-protect content from digital piracy. "[It] is an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists."

Numerous anti-virus and anti-spyware vendors have dubbed the XCP technology as spyware or called it "unwanted malicious software," with some, such as Computer Associates, going so far as to blacklist and remove the software.

On Thursday, Sony BMG also posted a news release on its Web site that linked to the patch download and the site where consumers are to request help with uninstalling the copy-protection software. Prior to that, the only URLs users had were those posted in media reports.

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