Sony BMG to pay more than $1.5 million to settle rootkit suits

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Sony BMG to pay more than $1.5 million to settle rootkit suits

Culver City (CA) – Adding to the previous class-action lawsuit brought against Sony because of the anti-piracy software that it hid in its music CDs last year, suits from California and Texas were settled today, calling for Sony to pay more than $1.5 million.

In late 2005, news surfaced that Sony was using software on its music CDs that was supposed to prevent consumers from copying the songs when inserted in a CD-ROM drive, from as long as three years ago. The application, known as MediaMax or XCP, can hide itself in a computer, without revealing itself to the owner. When discovered, the existence of the software led to a big controversy software as it also opened up a security hole, making the PC vulnerable to outside attacks.

Sony already settled a nationwide class-action lawsuit relating to the use of XCP late last year. Adding to that, the attorney generals of California and Texas took civil action against the entertainment giant, leading to yesterday’s settlement. Under the agreement, Sony will pay $750,000 in damages to each state, as well as up to $175 to each affected customer in the two states.

Customers have up to 180 days to file individual claims. Unlike the class-action suit, which would allow them to just send in any CD that contained the software and receive a minimal cash refund, claimants will need to send a description of how their computer was damaged, and provide proof of any repair expenses they incurred, which will be reimbursed by Sony, up to $175.

The main gripe presented by the attorney generals was that Sony provided no information to consumers about the intrusion to their computers. “Companies that want to load their CDs with software that limits the ability to copy music should fully inform consumers about it, not hide it, and make sure it doesn’t inflict security vulnerabilities on computers,” said California AG Bill Lockyer.

Sony also agreed that it would not install this specific software on any future CDs.


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