hurrah for sony! (but boycott them anyway)

18 November 2005, 10:08 pm

The Sony/BMG rootkit fiasco has evolved much faster than my attempts to keep up with it. I’ve scrapped several drafts of this item as they were overtaken by events, and as I write this, it looks as if Sony may be pressured into issuing an actual apology. The facts of the case have been hashed and rehashed on any number of fora, and there are just a few things I want to offer my opinion on.

Hurrah for Sony!

They inserted “rootkit” into the vocabulary of people who aren’t professional nerds. They dragged discussions of DRM out of the preaching-to-the-converted pits of Slashdot and into Joe Household. They earned censure from CERT and HomeSec.

I think this is wonderful, because it’s going to make discussions about Trusted Computing so much easier. My experience so far has been that when I effectively communicate the risks of Trusted Computing to someone, they tend to get concerned. But the entire issue is so wrapped up in gobbledegook it’s very difficult to describe clearly. But now there’s a short cut:

Remember that stuff about the Sony rootkit? Well, Trusted Computing is kinda like that . . . only about a gazillion times worse.

All right, Sony! Way to go!

But we’re not out of the woods.

I’ve heard a lot of people saying that they feel almost a moral obligation to jump through the technical hoops necessary to rip and share the offending compact discs.

I’m afraid that’s exactly what Sony wants.

It gives Sony a rationale to go back to Congress and say, “Hey, we admit we went a little too far this time, but even so, the lawless pirates took the very shirt from our backs. We need you to craft stricter legislation to protect our business. In fact, we have a draft of a bill that you could adopt here in our back pocket.”

The music and film lobbies are already lobbying for legislation to further restrict what consumers can do with content, and the failure of their best (and worst) efforts will just add fuel to the fire.

So please, consider just not buying the blasted things in the first place. In fact, for as long as Sony refuses to issue an apology or take meaningful steps to correct the damage it did, I’d suggest boycotting not only all Sony music product, but all Sony products, period. Hit ‘em where it hurts.

Why do I even care?

That’s what a friend asked me last time I was getting all foamy-mouthed about DRM. Let the major labels cut their own throats, he suggested (I’m paraphrasing) and then only the independent labels will be left. The thing is, I don’t think that’s a probable outcome. I think the disproportionately powerful lobbies of the movie and music business will be able to push their agendas through Congress. The Trusted Computing folks have a technological solution that could protect the interests of the MPAA and the RIAA, although its implications go far beyond that. They’d just love to have the use of their Orwellian systems federally mandated. And it’s only getting less likely that the Supreme Court will find such measures unconstitutional.

Remember, kids, Trusted Computing is kinda like the whole Sony “rootkit” thing . . . only about a gazillion times worse.

One comment on “hurrah for sony! (but boycott them anyway)”

  1. Flasshe

    I’ve always believed (though surely not quite as fervently as you) that Trusted Computing is wrong and a dire threat. However, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of powerlessness in the face of the corporations and their quest to protect their revenue streams. I’ve unfortunately resigned myself to getting screwed. I’d love to switch to a Mac (for example), but that would make things tougher for interfacing with work, not to mention wasting all the money I’ve sunk into PC-only applications and such. Plus, if they get away with this, what’s to stop Apple or whoever from eventually trying the same thing?

    I think what this Sony debacle has given people like me is a sense of hope that the big guys can be fought by the little guys. Also the sheer incompetence of those involved makes me think they’re never going to be able to achieve their worldwide domination objectives. So now I’m not so resigned to the impending DRM future. I will be happy to spread the anti-TC gospel whenever I can.

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