Sony Rootkit clearinghouse

You may have heard of the scandal over Sony Music’s crippling of several of its CDs with rootkit software (essentially, a powerful Trojan Horse that will get installed on your Windows PC if you autorun the CD). The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an article up with an explanation of why the technology is damaging to your PC, a list of CDs known to be infected and a quick tutorial on how to recognise possibly-infected CDs. There’s a second article discussing the 3000-word End User License Agreement (I love the word “Agreement” in this context. You “agree” by unwrapping the CD, and thanks to the good people in the computing industry, we no longer even notice how Orwellian that is) that comes with those CDs, and how it compares with the rights CD buyers have traditionally had.

The US edition of the latest Kate Bush album does not have the rootkit, but based on how Sony treats its customers I would advise American fans to import the album from Europe or Canada. EMI, who still release Kate’s work in those territories, are no saints in this regard either, but I believe they’ve already learned the hard way that this sort of thing is Just Not On.

(Via Jon Mandle at Crooked Timber)

Update: Listeners in the Netherlands take note. According to an article in Webwereld, Sony still wants to roll out the rootkit technology on CDs released in the Netherlands. You may want to start boycotting them now, just to be sure.