Sony Finally Pulls XCP Cds After Numerous Blogger Complaints

Posted on November 20, 2005

BlogPulse and WebProNews are both reporting that Sony has finally caved and will be pulling its XCP CDs. The blogosphere waged a long battle to get Sony to remove them. John Stith at WebProNews says a lot of the credit goes to Mark Russinovich and F-Secure. InformationWeek also credited the blogosphere in this article.

It started when security researcher Mark Russinovich first posted to his blog that Sony's music CDs surreptitiously installed digital rights management software based on a "rootkit" -- a hacking tool widely considered to be spyware. Following that, bloggers of all stripes, from seasoned security experts to aggrieved consumers, vented about the record company's unethical and possibly illegal behavior.

"It seems crystal clear that but for the citizen journalists, Sony never would have done anything about this," says Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a cyber liberties advocacy group that has been vocal in its condemnation of Sony and may eventually file a a lawsuit against Sony, in addition to three that have already been filed. "It's plain to me that it was Sony's intent to brush the story under the rug and forget about it."

BlogPulse had a good wrap-up on the blogger outrage at Sony here and the BBC had an article about Sony's XCP CDs here that summarized Sony's wrongdoings.
After extensive analysis Mr Russinovich realised that the "cloaked" software had been installed when he first listened to the CD album Get Right With the Man CD by country rockers Van Zant.

Although resembling a virus, Mr Russinovich found the hidden files had come from an anti-copying system called Extended Copy Protection (XCP) developed by UK software company First 4 Internet.

About 20 titles are thought to be using the XCP software and in May 2005 Sony said more than two million discs had been shipped using the technology. XCP is just one of several anti-piracy systems Sony is trying.

XCP only allows three copies of an album to be made and only allows the CD to be listened to on a computer via a proprietary media player. The hidden files are installed alongside the media player.

Engadget wonders what took Sony so long.