The Sony Rootkit Effect

While the blogosphere is understandably focused on the revelation that the RIAA now says that "creating a back-up copy of a music CD is not a non-infringing use" (after telling the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grokster hearing that "it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."), I think two other stories out today merit attention. 

Throughout the Sony rootkit fiasco there was considerable debate about its long-term impact.  I believed then (and now) that the story moved beyond the tech community with much broader public awareness.  Well, today brings news of another copyright protection security leak.  The problem stems from a Korean DRM system used on DVDs released in Germany. The DRM system does not install a rootkit, but it does create a security vulnerability and there has been some trouble with the uninstall program.  The article, which makes regular reference to the Sony rootkit incident, points to the increased scrutiny and skepticism associated with DRM.

The other story comes from the Wall Street Journal, which writes about Sony's efforts to "stake a claim in the digital book market."  The Journal proceeds to identify the major challenge facing Sony.  It doesn't point to the cost of the device, the availability of digital books, or competition from the iPod.  Instead, it says the biggest challenge is "whether the content restrictions are going to be so onerous and so difficult to use that consumers simply won't bother."  Moreover, in reflecting on Sony's missteps in recent years, the Journal quotes one analyst as saying that "DRM implementation killed their own players and created an environment where Apple could flourish."

While I'm not convinced that the industry has learned its lesson from the Sony rootkit case, it does appear that the media and industry analysts won't be forgetting it anytime soon.

One Comment

  1. Chris Langston says:

    That’s not what it says on the RIAA web
    I saw this link posted in a slashdot discussion on the story:

    Here’s the quote itself:
    “If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that’s great. It’s your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail. ”