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Old 11-01-2005, 06:01 AM   #1
Colin Dunstan
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Sony taking DRM too far from a programmer's viewpoint

Mark from Sysinternals is a genius in the way he digs beneath the surface when things go wrong on a MS Windows system. In his latest blog entry he unveils Sony's dirty tricks of implementing malicious and buggy software to enforce their DRM licenses on audio CDs. Some interesting discoveries:
  • Sony uses DRM technology from a 3rd party ("Aries.sys" driver)
  • The DRM is automatically installed without giving you explicit notice
  • Sony tries to hide the fact that any software is installed (using various "cloaking" techniques)
  • You cannot uninstall the DRM (unless you're Mark and a computer genious)
  • The software is poorly written and continuously uses CPU resources even if unused.
Bottom line: The price you have to pay for being an honest customer is to live with restrictive and buggy DRM which renders your PC unstable and slows it down.

Related: Microsoft Windows Internals by Mark E. Russinovich
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:41 AM   #2
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Yeah, I saw this elsewhere. I think via Tao of mac. Gods, what a disaster. I read through it.
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Old 11-01-2005, 09:44 AM   #3
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Bullet points 2, 3 and 4 help meet the definition of malware. Bullet point 5 is a sign of poor coding and testing.

This is, of course, exactly the thing that will torpedo any attempt to get meaningful malware legislation through congress.

Can any DRM system that can be defeated simply by a) holding down the left shift key while loading the CD, or b) using a Macintosh really be effective?

It is sad that more and more companies are getting on my growing short list of those I won't buy from for reasons very similar to this. I stopped buying HP consumer printers because of the mountain of unwanted software they insist on installing on your system; I have avoided CDs from Sony originally because they failed to disclose which titles were copy-protected and which ones weren't. My computers are my property, and you must have my permission before you do anything to it.
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Old 11-01-2005, 01:05 PM   #4
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But it said that the CD will install drivers without your permission... shouldn't someone sue them for doing that? And why penalize the one who bought the CD and pay them.... and even those who makes copies of the Cds they bought, it is only a small percentage of the end-users, and the majority get penalized with crazy DRM technologies...

and that poor coding, leading to performance hit is something else, you just play a CD, and your Pc will take a hit forever? At the very least, it should have a built-in uninstaller (not something you will have to write them for). After all, you can't copy the disc and everytime, you insert it, it will install something (presuming your PC doesn't have that rootkit yet), then why not an uninstall routine?

Makes me wanna get a Mac... Wonder if Mac on Wintel (next year) will mean that these crazy DRM will carry over... nowadays I believe Macs can rip any copy-protected CDs without problems... I paid for my CDs so why shouldn't I use them anyway I want, afterall, I am not sharing it with anyone but myself...

These are the things that will drive those who have reformed (previous Napster addicts) who gone legit back to P2P...
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Old 11-01-2005, 06:12 PM   #5
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Ah, yes.

Yet another reason why Microsoft products and DRM are bad ideas.
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Old 11-03-2005, 03:11 AM   #6
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Seems the publicity about it got a bit too much for them ...

They posted/are making a patch and did some damage control.
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Old 11-06-2005, 02:34 PM   #7
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Mark posted a follow-up illustrating his aburd odyssey to get rid of Sony's rootkit-DRM and how the supposed patch puts users at risk of a blue-screen crash and the associated chance of data loss.

Sony get real and spare us of your annoyances!
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Old 11-06-2005, 05:47 PM   #8
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It's good to see the issue is getting some real publicity too, which is probably the only thing that may make Sony consider changing its practice.
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:02 PM   #9
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And the story continues... Sony’s Rootkit: First 4 Internet Responds

Besides demonstrating the ineptitude of the First 4 Internet programmers, this flaw highlights my message that rootkits create reliability risks in addition to security risks...

Go, Mark!
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Old 11-10-2005, 04:50 AM   #10
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Count Microsoft among the unhappy of Sony's DRM strategies:

http://bink.nu/Article5290.bink
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