Bloggers Break Sony (InformationWeek)

Sony made an unpopular product decision and got its reputation incinerated by waves of flaming bloggers. That’s a lesson for other companies.

By Thomas Claburn

Sony’s decision to withdraw its controversial copy-protected CDs followed weeks of flames by bloggers.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment said Wednesday it will stop selling 50 CD titles with its XCP content protection software. Sony also said it will remove the discs from stores, and offer replacements without copy protection to customers.

Before Sony acted, the company suffered through weeks of angry posts by bloggers who stirred outrage against the company.

It started when security researcher Mark Russinovich first posted to his blog that Sony’s music CDs surreptitiously installed digital rights management software based on a “rootkit”–a hacking tool widely considered to be spyware. Following that, bloggers of all stripes, from seasoned security experts to aggrieved consumers, vented about the record company’s unethical and possibly illegal behavior.

“It seems crystal clear that but for the citizen journalists, Sony never would have done anything about this,” says Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a cyber liberties advocacy group that has been vocal in its condemnation of Sony and may eventually file a a lawsuit against Sony, in addition to three that have already been filed. “It’s plain to me that it was Sony’s intent to brush the story under the rug and forget about it.”

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