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Sony's rootkit DRM comes under legal attack

By Matt Whipp

Posted on 8 Nov 2005 at 17:32

An Italian online civil rights organisation has filed a legal complaint against Sony's use of rootkit technology in the DRM protecting a number of its music CDs.

The ALCEI-EFI (Association for Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications - Electronic Frontiers Italy) filed its complaint on Friday to the commander of the Guardia di Finanza, Colonel Umberto Rapetto, alleging the technology contravenes Italian legislation.

It claims that knowingly distributing code which damages computer systems is subject to penal law and an 'indictable offence'. It claims that Sony's actions to offer a patch and instructions on how to remove the software component, which installs itself without the express consent of the user, reveals the company's complicity in the 'crime'.

It says it wants to unmask those behind the decision to adopt the technology and use the case, if it goes ahead, to set a public precedent that this kind of distorted copyright protection is unacceptable in Italy.

Sony has so far been quiet on the matter, but has faced a chorus of criticism over the technology. Computer Associates has said it has instructed its security products to remove the software where found. Russian security firm Kaspersky is also categorising the software as 'spyware'.

The controversy first came to light when a researcher discovered a hidden 'rootkit' on his computer which cloaked monitoring files that formed part of Sony's copy-protection technology on its music CDs.

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