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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #295  (Vol. 6, No. 46)  This edition is for the week of November 14--20, 2005.

"Walk The Line"
 by Mike Smith
Sony Hacked My PC
 by Vinnie Blesi
Bastards!...Just The Facts, Ma'am....Funny Guy....Jaws: The Story, Part 42
 by Mike Smith
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Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.

Sony Hacked My PC             
Forgetting their own roots, i.e., Sony Corp. of America (Betamax) v. Universal City Studios (1984), and exposing themselves as the evil money-grubbing, multi-national corporation they are, Sony has recently been busted in their latest attempt at Digital Rights Management (DRM) i.e technology that prevents from copying an audio cd on your computer. Certain Sony/BMG audio cd’s covertly install hacking software when you play them on your Windows PC. These CD's install what is called a rootkit secretly on your computer. This is what virus and worm writers use to take control of your PC. Already in the past week there has been one attempt by virus writers to exploit the Sony rootkit.

After the negative publicity unleashed on the media monopoly, they have announced they will no longer press any CD’s using the rootkit and have made an uninstall feature available on the Internet. In addition, most anti-virus software has been updated to identify the Sony hacking software as malware and remove it. However no recall of the already pressed CD’s has been announced and Sony refuses to identify which CD’s have the software. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004144.php, has identified some CD’s with the offending software, but it is probably not a complete list.

Unfortunately, Sony and other media companies want to take away any control from the consumer for what was previously know as “fair use” in products you purchase. With help from Washington lobbyists they have Congress in their pockets, under the guise of the war against pirating. In fact, the Dept. of Justice is pressing new legislation, http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,69555,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_8, that will make it a crime to “attempt pirating copyrighted material”. What the hell does that mean? It is vague and means they can bust you if they suspect you attempted to illegally copy a CD.

What can you do? Write your Congressperson and let them know that what you think. Stop buying mainstream CDs from Sony and other major labels. Purchase music from independent labels and if you must have the latest 50 cent CD purchase it from one of the legal music download services.

Also absurd is Sony’s end user agreement that you agree to if you put a Sony/Bmg audio CD in your computer drive. For starters you agree to not hold them liable for damages to your computer, and limits your litigation judgments to $5.00. Yes, Sony can install hacking software on your computer and you can only sue them for 5 dollars. Read the details here, http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004145.php.

If you read the actual Sony EULA it refers to digital content. Which brings us to an interesting dilemma. Why is the US Government legislating Digital TV to be mandatory? If you read the propaganda, it is to provide you with all these cool new features. The real reason is to take away your “Fair Use” privileges. Digital content will give them the means to do this. The entertainment monopolies are poised to control what you watch and how you watch it. The “X” factor in all of this digital mess is what happens when your TV gets a virus or gets hacked?

Sony is also one of the major players of a dubious trade organization know as the RIAA, who sue 13 year old girls and are alleged to have used intimidating techniques ala racketing protection schemes to get an unknown number of computer users to cough up $3000-$5000 so the RIAA will not sue them.

The bottom line is that the recording industry have been greedy bastards in the past, already convicted of CD price fixing, and they will continue to do whatever is necessary to pad their big fat wallet with profits, ignoring their core audience, you the consumer. Only by supporting Independent music labels will we be able to fight this corporate monster. Just say No to corporate music labels!

Late-Breaking News: After this story was written it has also come out that using Sony’s web-based uninstaller opens a serious Windows security exploit on your computer. Sony also may be announcing a recall of the CD’s that install the rootkit. Read more at http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/

"Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2005 by Vinnie Blesi.  Couch Potato main graphic by Vin Blesi and Nolan Canova.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.