Sony BMG has temporarily suspended the production of music CDs that use digital rights management (DRM) software in response to concerns over security. Sony issued a statement on November 11 acknowledging that Windows users are susceptible to a virus that takes advantage of its DRM software.
Sonyis copy protection software can install and hide itself on both Mac OS X and Windows systems in a manner commonly known as "rootkit." Mac users are not affected by the new viruses that take advantage of Sonyis DRM technology, but Windows users are.
The music company released new tools for Windows users that remove the "cloaking" part of their software, allowing users to see exactly what has been installed, along with a patch to help protect against virus exploits, and an uninstaller application. An uninstaller for Mac users, however, has not been released.
Sony BMGis public statement says, in part "We stand by content protection technology as an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists... 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."
A new page has been added to Sony BMGis web site with additional information about its DRM technology.
Sonyis DRM headaches are only just beginning. Class action lawsuits against the company started shortly after news of its copy protection scheme broke. According to the BBC News, that number has already climbed to six.
Gartner Research issued a report noting that Sony BMGis actions are likely to feed a consumer backlash, and even went so far as to say the recording companyis DRM meets the definition of spyware.
The report also noted that "The use of spyware techniques, however benign in purpose, constitutes bad business practice and should be discouraged. Any attempt to sneak software onto a customeris computer or gather any information without consent is unacceptable."
[This article has been updated with additional information from Gartner Research]