Sony’s Escalating “Spyware” Fiasco

Along with lawyers, prosecutors, and furious fans, artists are joining the backlash against the label for slipping a hidden, anti-theft program into users’ computers

Van Zant’s Get Right with the Man CD was released in May, but six months later it still was doing better-than-respectable business on (AMZN). The album ranked No. 887 on the online retailer’s list of music sales on Nov. 2. Then news of the CD’s aggressive content safeguards — a sub-rosa software program incorporated courtesy of Sony BMG — exploded on the Internet.

Some are trying to say that the sales weren’t impacted. Well, this is a BusinessWeek article that says otherwise. And the artists are not happy about it either.

And here’s what they say is REALLY happening:

GROWING OUTRAGE. Overnight, Get Right with the Man dropped to No. 1,392 on Amazon’s music rankings. By Nov. 22 — after the news made headlines and Sony was deep into damage control, pulling some 4.7 million copy-protected disks from the market — Get Right with the Man was even further from Amazon’s Top 40, plummeting to No. 25,802.

To go from Amazon’s Top 40 to No. 25,902 because of something their “Label” did to them without their knowledge and consent.

And to sum it up:

ABANDONED LABELS? “This is serious business,” says Red Light Management’s Jordan. “As managers, we’ve always supported trusting our fans. Copy protection has nothing to do with trust.”

If reaction to the Sony rootkit is any measure, Jordan is right. As news of the secret code grew, music fans began using Amazon’s review function to post messages to their favorite tunesters. “Sorry Trey,” wrote Freddie, an Anastasio fan from Maryland, “but you should find a new label.”

Fans and Artists are rightfully up in arms. And this is not the worst of it.

Freedom to Tinker has been saying that SunComm’s copy protection called MediaMax is just as bad in a different way from the XCP DRM.

In fact, much of the EFF’s court case just filed focuses on SunComm’s copy protection MediaMax.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel as some artists work out their own marketing plans, and provide their songs for free to their fans as Stuart David of Looper stated in this BBC article entitled Ad earns Scots band big rewards:

“Our main ideal is giving the songs away free to people. Because we can make money from the films and adverts that takes care of having to make money from it,” Stuart added.

He said: “We don’t sell any records anymore.

“I am pleased that Looper didn’t take off in a big way – it’s not good for you in the long run, I don’t think.

“I can only think of two or three fans we’ve ever heard from off the back of the Xerox ad.”

He added: “It (Mondo 77) brings in enough money for us to have been able to treat it as being our job.”

And other artists give some of their music away to sell others. And as long as they are not copy protected and allow personal ‘fair use’ of what they buy, most consumers will not mind at all paying for the albums and/or tracks.

Comments on: "Sony’s Escalating “Spyware” Fiasco" (2)

  1. Great summary Bambi – I think I’m gonna stop posting myself about this story and switch to your musings for further “SonyGate” news!

    Besides, I’ve got other fish to fry – I see the ‘ol “CiscoGate” worm we exchanged some comments about a few months back has turned (see This has my customers running scared now.

    Cheers for now

  2. I was concerned as you were that we had not heard the last of the CiscoGate thing, huh?

    And thank you so much for your comments here.

    This whole copy protection thing needs to be addressed resoundingly before these Label companies do any more damage.

    Cheers back at ‘cha,


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