[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 16:59 GMT
Sony BMG repents over CD debacle
By Mark Ward
Technology correspondent, BBC News website

Alicia Keys performance
An Alicia Keys live CD used Sony BMG copy protection

Sony BMG is rethinking its anti-piracy policy following weeks of criticism over the copy protection used on CDs.

The head of Sony BMG's global digital business, Thomas Hesse, told the BBC that the company was "re-evaluating" its current methods.

It follows widespread condemnation of the way anti-piracy software on some Sony CDs installs itself on computers.

The admission came as Sony faced more censure over the security failings of one of its copy protection programs.

Bad publicity

The row began in November when software developer Mark Russinovich discovered that Sony BMG's XCP anti-piracy programs used virus-like techniques to hide itself on a PC.

This whole story has led us to look at the approach we have to take going forward
Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG
The row ended with Sony recalling all the CDs that use XCP and offering to swap customers' existing discs for ones that do not use the much-criticised software.

Speaking to the BBC News website, Thomas Hesse, president of Sony BMG's global digital business, said all the bad publicity had made it think hard about its approach to stopping people making illegal copies.

"The key point to remember is that copyright infringement is a huge issue for the recording industry as a whole and that's where we came from originally," he said.

"But this whole story has led us to look at the approach we have to take going forward," Mr Hesse said.

The furore about the XCP software had lead Sony BMG to "diligently re-evaluate" how it protects music on CDs.

He said it was too early to say where Sony was in the evaluation process or what might result, but he said the company was taking the re-examination very seriously.

Patch problems

Sony came in for more criticism this week over SunComm's MediaMax anti-piracy program used on 32 CDs released in the US and Canada.

The problem with the MediaMax software was revealed in a joint statement Sony BMG issued with digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In that statement Sony urged users to install a patch that closed the security loophole that MediaMax opened on PCs.

However, the discovery by independent security researchers that this patch suffered the same security problems as the original program led the EFF to withdraw its support.

The loophole introduced by MediaMax and the patch could have let malicious hackers hijack the programs to gain control of a PC. The new program issued by Sony BMG on 8 December closes the hole in the patch.

"It's a fairly common issue often found in PC games," said Robert Horton, a security expert from NGS Software brought in by Sony to vet its latest patch.

"Its fairly common and the fix is easy to provide through a software update."

He said it was unlikely that any attacker would have been able to exploit the bugs in MediaMax and its patch.

"Even if the issue is only a slight one, at Sony BMG we are very clear that any software security issues are taken with the utmost seriousness," said Mr Hesse.

Anti-piracy CD problems vex Sony
08 Dec 05 |  Technology
Sony sued over controversial CDs
22 Nov 05 |  Technology
Amazon offer for Sony CD buyers
18 Nov 05 |  Technology
More pain for Sony over CD code
17 Nov 05 |  Technology
Viruses use Sony anti-piracy CDs
11 Nov 05 |  Technology
Microsoft to remove Sony CD code
14 Nov 05 |  Technology
Sony slated over anti-piracy CD
03 Nov 05 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific