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DRM CDs (1) Mon, Jun 26, 2006
A few months ago, it was discovered (and complained about) that Sony BMG puts copyright protection (Digital Rights Management) on a few of their CDs.  This only becomes a problem if a user puts one of these CDs in their computer, at which point a little piece of software is installed that opens up a backdoor to the user's computer, leaving the computer open to virus intrusion.  Put nicely,
So, let's make this a bit more explicit. You buy a CD. You put the CD into your PC in order to enjoy your music. Sony grabs this opportunity to sneak into your house like a virus and set up camp, and it leaves the backdoor open so that Sony or any other enterprising intruder can follow and have the run of the place. If you try to kick Sony out, it trashes the place. And what does this software do once it's on your PC? ... The DRM itself is almost unbelievably restrictive, and some have suggested that the reasoning behind it is part of Sony's ongoing war over digital music supremacy with the decidedly more supreme Apple.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation put together a list of DRM-infected CDs.  Later, Sony published a more complete list: 
A Static Lullaby, Faso Latido
Acceptance, Phantoms
Amerie, Touch
Art Blakey, Drum Suit
The Bad Plus, Suspicious Activity?
Bette Midler, Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook
Billie Holiday, The Great American Songbook
Bob Brookmeyer, Bob Brookmeyer & Friends
Buddy Jewell, Times Like These
Burt Bacharach, At This Time
Celine Dion, On Ne Change Pas
Chayanne, Cautivo
Chris Botti, To Love Again
The Coral, The Invisible Invasion
Cyndi Lauper, The Body Acoustic
The Dead 60's, The Dead 60's
Deniece Williams, This Is Niecy
Dextor Gordon, Manhattan Symphonie
Dion, The Essential Dion
Earl Scruggs, I Saw The Light With Some Help From My Friends
Elkland, Golden
Emma Roberts, Unfabulous And More: Emma Roberts
Flatt & Scruggs, Foggy Mountain Jamboree
Frank Sinatra, The Great American Songbook
G3, Live In Tokyo
George Jones, My Very Special Guests
Gerry Mulligan, Jeru
Horace Silver, Silver's Blue
Jane Monheit, The Season
Jon Randall, Walking Among The Living
Life Of Agony, Broken Valley
Louis Armstrong, The Great American Songbook
Mary Mary, Mary Mary
Montgomery Gentry, Something To Be Proud Of: The Best of 1999-2005
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten
Neil Diamond, 12 Songs
Nivea, Complicated
Our Lady Peace, Healthy In Paranoid Times
Patty Loveless, Dreamin' My Dreams
Pete Seeger, The Essential Pete Seeger
Ray Charles, Friendship
Rosanne Cash, Interiors 
Rosanne Cash, King's Record Shop
Rosanne Cash, Seven Year Ache
Shel Silverstein, The Best Of Shel Silverstein
Shelly Fairchild, Ride
Susie Suh, Susie Suh
Switchfoot, Nothing Is Sound
Teena Marie, Robbery
Trey Anastasio, Shine
Van Zant, Get Right With The Man
Vivian Green, Vivian
So basically, if you have any of these CDs, don't put them in your computer.  But if you really want to, there's a way to disable the DRM from installing, though it sounds like it's more trouble than it's worth.  And there's also a way to sort of get rid of DRM if you're already infected.  Just ask Mr. Google. #entertainment

Comments:
Rich Wed, Jun 28, 2006
More cds than just Sony's include some form of DRM, but Sony got in trouble because the DRM they used on these CDs took the form of a Rootkit, which does exactly what you said, leaving a gaping hole in system security.  From what I've read on the subject, the rootkit needs the cd to autorun in order to infect your computer, so you can either disable autorun alltogether, or hold the shift key as you insert the cd and it spins to prevent autorun just that time (just don't go into my computer at that point and double click the cd, or it will autorun at that point).  Anyway, if you do get a rootkit, Sysinternals Rootkit Revealer http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/RootkitRevealer.html is a freeware app that scans your computer for rootkits, to help in removal.  (As an aside, anything from Sysinternals is excellent)  They can be a real pain to get rid of, so avoidance is the best method. 
Now, here's what gets me.  Sony was in a legal gray area here.  Technically, if this went to court, they had a potential case.  (Though I'm pretty sure they would have lost)  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it a federal crime to circumvent digital copy protection (of which drm is a form, which itself has several forms...), even if the source media is legally owned, and the intended purpose of the circumvention would constitute "fair use."  What the DMCA failed to do was provide any boundaries as to what type of copy protection was allowed on disks.  These rootkits are the tip of the iceberg compared to some of the invasive technologies I've read about that are still a few years out.  Did you know that the MPAA is trying to make it illegal to have a DVD player that doesn't connect to the internet?  Their idea is to have a form of copy protection hard coded into the DVD player that compares a unique ID on each disk to an online database before letting you play it.  If its pirated, it won't play.  If it can't access the internet, it won't play anything.  All in the name of "enhancing" your entertainment experience.  Now, I think as a simple matter of practicality, they won't get this particular tech (or the requisite law) to exist in the real world, but the fact that they are trying is rather disturbing.


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