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SONY BMG OFFERS STATEMENT IN COPY-PROTECTION FLAP
“Rootkit” Debacle Prompts Virus-Protecting Patch, Regret for “Inconvencience.” Meanwhile, List of XCP-protected Discs Emerges
In response to widening criticism of its latest CD copy-protection scheme, Sony BMG has issued a statement. The trouble arises from SBMG discs protected with software called XCP, developed by a security company First4Internet, which installs itself on users’ computers, interfering with or even damaging their systems, while surreptitiously reporting data back to SBMG. The XCP software also renders itself invisible on users’ systems, a feature that has already been exploited by virus writers who have used the XCP “back door” and cloaking to infect users’ systems. Analysts have classified SBMG’s copy protection as “spyware,” a term the company has said is off the mark.

However, in the statement issued Friday, SBMG said it “deeply regrets any inconvenience” caused by XCP and will temporarily stop making CDs protected by the technology, which uses a set of system-level tools known as a “rootkit” to carry out its various security measures.

The full text of the SBMG statement appears below, followed by a partial list of CD titles known to be copy-protected using the controversial XCP software.

SONY BMG STATEMENT

“We are aware that a computer virus is circulating that may affect computers with XCP content protection software. The XCP software is included on a limited number of SONY BMG content protected titles. This potential problem has no effect on the use of these discs in conventional, non-computer-based, CD and DVD players.

“In response to these events, SONY BMG has swiftly provided a patch to all major anti-virus companies and to the general public that guards against precisely the type of virus now said to exist. The patch fixes the possible software problem, and still allows CDs to be played on personal computers.  It can be downloaded at http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/.  Starting today, we will also be adding this link to the SONY BMG label and corporate sites. We deeply regret any possible inconvenience this may cause.  

“We stand by content protection technology as an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists. Nonetheless, as a precautionary measure, SONY BMG is temporarily suspending the manufacture of CDs containing First4Internet XCP technology. We also intend to re-examine all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use.  

“More information about our content protection initiative can also be found at:  http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp.”

Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a list of CD titles known to be protected by XCP. While Sony BMG has offered a patch to reveal the XCP software and, reportedly, address the vulnerability to viruses created by the software, the company still has not made an uninstaller widely available to consumers. At present, according to the EFF, those who wish to uninstall the XCP software are required by SBMG to make two separate requests by submitting information including an email address that may be added to SBMG marketing lists.

According to the EFF, CDs that contain XCP can be identified by a “Content Protected” logo on their spines, or a URL ending in “xcp” on their backs in the “compatible with” section. While SBMG has refused to disclose which of its releases are protected byt XCP, the EFF has identified the following partial list of titles:

Trey Anastasio, Shine (Columbia)
Celine Dion, On ne Change Pas (Epic)
Neil Diamond, 12 Songs (Columbia)
Our Lady Peace, Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia)
Chris Botti, To Love Again (Columbia)
Van Zant, Get Right with the Man (Columbia)
Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound (Columbia)
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion (Columbia)
Acceptance, Phantoms (Columbia)
Susie Suh, Susie Suh (Epic)
Amerie, Touch (Columbia)
Life of Agony, Broken Valley (Epic)
Horace Silver Quintet, Silver's Blue (Epic Legacy)
Gerry Mulligan, Jeru (Columbia Legacy)
Dexter Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie (Columbia Legacy)
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity (Columbia)
The Dead 60s, The Dead 60s (Epic)
Dion, The Essential Dion (Columbia Legacy)
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten (Epic)
Ricky Martin, Life (Columbia)

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