Friday, November 18, 2005

Oh, the irony: Sony, busted again

There's been a lot in the news lately about a certain copyright-protection technology that Sony put on compact discs that they sold--the problem is that these CDs installed a "rootkit" onto Windows PCs that resulted in a substantial security risk. Sony got roundly (and rightly) flamed for this, and finally decided to recall the discs.

But now, it turns out, this copy-protection scheme is itself in violation of someone else's copyright. Is this the very height of irony, or what?
Sony's DRM woes expand to include copyright infringement

If Sony BMG was hoping that the controversy surrounding its copy-protected CDs was going to die away, it was reckoning without infamous hacker Jon Lech Johansen, better known as DVD Jon.

It seems that the XCP software from UK company First4Internet that Sony had been using to prevent unauthorised copying of its music CDs, until it agreed to recall some 4.7 million discs, contains code 'infringing the copyright of several open source projects', Johansen notes in his blog. This includes code that he himself wrote for VLC, a free cross-platform media player.

The code was uncovered by Finnish software developer Matti Nikki, who also discovered other copyright violations.

'Multiple software components on the CD have references to the LAME open source MP3 code,' he wrote in an email. His findings have been substantiated by others.

'We can confirm that at least five functions in the XCP software are identical to functions in LAME,' Thomas Dullien from Sabre Security, a company that specialises in the analysis of complex software, told Reuters.

Although open source software can be freely used, it must be credited as such. No mention of it was made in the XCP code.

Code in the LAME application is licensed under the lessser GNU General Public Licence (LGPL) that, while not as ascetic as the GPL, still places obligations on the use of that code. This includes terms such as 'You must cause the whole of the work to be licensed at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License'. [...]
Can you say "Oops!"


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