SONY’S LICENSE AGREEMENT

Sony is taking a lot of heat for the malware installed on people’s computers by Sony’s DRM software. Here’s my writeup and links, and some followup information.

Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.net has dissected the license agreement on Sony CDs, which is full of provisions that make the DRM software look mild. Here’s his take:

“If you’re unfortunate enough to buy music from Sony, you may think that the worst thing they’ll do to you is screw you by infecting your computer with malicious rootkit software. Not so! Rootkits are only the beginning. If you want to see how Sony really gives its customers the shaft, have a look at these conditions in the license you have to agree to when you put a Sony music CD in your computer:

“1. If your house gets burgled, you have to delete all your music from your laptop when you get home. That’s because the EULA says that your rights to any copies terminate as soon as you no longer possess the original CD.

“2. You can’t keep your music on any computers at work. The EULA only gives you the right to put copies on a “personal home computer system owned by you.”

“3. If you move out of the country, you have to delete all your music. The EULA specifically forbids “export” outside the country where you reside.

“4. You must install any and all updates, or else lose the music on your computer. The EULA immediately terminates if you fail to install any update. No more holding out on those hobble-ware downgrades masquerading as updates.

“5. Sony-BMG can install and use backdoors in the copy protection software or media player to “enforce their rights” against you, at any time, without notice. And Sony-BMG disclaims any liability if this “self help” crashes your computer, exposes you to security risks, or any other harm.

“6. The EULA says Sony-BMG will never be liable to you for more than $5.00. That’s right, no matter what happens, you can’t even get back what you paid for the CD.

“7. If you file for bankruptcy, you have to delete all the music on your computer. Seriously.

“8. You have no right to transfer the music on your computer, even along with the original CD.

“9. Forget about using the music as a soundtrack for your latest family photo slideshow, or mash-ups, or sampling. The EULA forbids changing, altering, or make derivative works from the music on your computer.”

The worst thing is, terms like that in a license agreement might be completely typical. The power being wielded in the name of “copyright protection” is really breathtaking.