Jeremy's almost but not quite entirely moribund blog

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Corporate citizenship, or lack thereof

Mark Russinovich has analyzed the SonyBMG DRM uninstaller and concludes, "Without exaggeration I can say that I’ve analyzed virulent forms of spyware/adware that provide more straightforward means of uninstall.".

In his Freedom to Tinker blog, Ed Felten summarizes why he now considers SonyBMG's DRM to be spyware:
In all the discussion of the SonyBMG software, I’ve been avoiding the S-word. But now it’s clear that this software crosses the line. It’s spyware.

Let’s review the evidence:

* The software comes with a EULA which, at the very least, misleads users about what the software does.
* The software interferes with the efforts of ordinary users and programs, including virus checkers and other security software, to identify it.
* Without telling the user or obtaining consent, the software sends information to the vendor about the user’s activities.
* No uninstaller is provided with the software, or even on the vendor’s website, despite indications to the contrary in the EULA.
* The vendor has an uninstaller but refuses to make it available except to individual users who jump through a long series of hoops.
* The vendor makes misleading statements to the press about the software.

This is the kind of behavior we’ve come to expect from spyware vendors. Experience teaches that it’s typical of small DRM companies too. But why isn’t SonyBMG backing away from this? Doesn’t SonyBMG aspire to at least a modest level of corporate citizenship?


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