Scenario: you’re a Windows user who buys a new cd distributed by Sony. To play the cd you *have* to install Sony’s software (the cd works fine on Mac or Linux) – and an extra programme called a rootkit which hides itself from your system and doesn’t let you make more than 3 copies of the music. Good for Sony, bad for you, because they neglect to mention anywhere in the license agreement about the rootkit (which essentially has a signature like a virus). What’s more, you can’t uninstall it. And if you delete the files it installs on your systems you mess up Windows.
Mark Russinovich – who discovered the rootkit on his machine – details this on his blog. And he’s mad with Sony. As are the many people who left comments at his site.
Why did Sony do this? Perhaps they weren’t aware that people wouldn’t want hidden software installed on their computer without permission. Perhaps they didn’t know this was the case (the software wasn’t developed in-house – they used a contractor who specialises in Digital Rights Management). But the impression they give is simply that they don’t care if they infringe other’s rights as long as they’re protecting their own. Not the way you want to treat your customers.

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