Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Make Mine Sony-Free

As the holiday and gift-shopping season arrives, I’d like to talk about what not to get me (or really, anyone on your list). A bad gift is really painful to receive. You have to put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy, and then go return the thing at the first opportunity.

My bad gift list for this year is defined by one word: Sony. Sony has turned deeply, maliciously, anti-consumer. They no longer believe that the customer is always right, but that the customer is a vicious cheat out to steal from them. This is not only shown by the Sony-BMG rootkit your PC by playing the music you’d bought (Cory Doctrow’s Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III.)

It shows up in the PlayStation Portable, which will only play Sony-approved content. Every time clever engineers figure out how to make the device more useful, Sony breaks not only the new devices coming out of the factory, but inserts malicious code into games you buy. Without your permission that malware changes the device you’ve paid for to make it less useful.

This isn’t a new problem. Sony crippled the Mini-disc format, which is a great format for recording live music. My friend Dave ran into trouble after he and his band recorded the music they’d written and performed onto a Mini-disc. He couldn’t get his music off his minidisc in digital form. (More on the problem at this Politech post.)

So please, when considering what to buy me (or anyone else) this year, buy me gifts that I’ll enjoy, not gifts that will piss on my shoes. Help keep my holiday Sony-free.

[Previous Sony posts include: “Sony’s Rootkit and the DMCA,” “Macs and Sony’s Rootkit” and “Sony, Respecting Their Customer.”]

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