On Tuesday, we reported the story of Mark Russinovich's discovery that the new new Van Zant CD, published by music giant Sony-BMG, contains aggressive anti-piracy malware. This low-level, hidden code not only prevents you from playing the CD in Windows Media Player, WinAmp or any other software, but the drivers installed without user consent to run the in-built player chew CPU time even when you're not playing music, and can leave your PC crippled if you attempt to remove them.

In a victory for common sense everywhere, the enormous public backlash (including bit-tech readers) against this "technology" has forced Sony-BMG into an embarrassing U-turn:

November 2, 2005 - This Service Pack removes the cloaking technology component that has been recently discussed in a number of articles published regarding the XCP Technology used on SONY BMG content protected CDs. This component is not malicious and does not compromise security. However to alleviate any concerns that users may have about the program posing potential security vulnerabilities, this update has been released to enable users to remove this component from their computers.

You can download the Service Pack from the XCP-Aurora.

Amusingly, the fun & games doesn't stop there, as the download requires the use of Microsoft's ActiveX - one of the major vulnerabilities in the browser-based security issues that have plagued Internet Explorer. FireFox is commonly believed to be a more secure browser because it does not support ActiveX, yet FireFox users wanting to download the XCP Service Pack because of concerns it opens them to "potential security vulnerabilities" are greeted with this message:

ActiveX Unsupported

Sorry, your Internet Browser does not support ActiveX Controls.

Please use Microsoft Internet Explorer to continue.

In other words, please switch back to the browser you've moved away from for security reasons in order to download the patch that removes the security issues from our software that we installed without your permission.

Why is it that so called "anti-piracy" measures these media giants employ do little more than punish the people who actually pay for music or films legally, while counterfeit factories in the Far East churned our dodgy copies by the million with apparent impunity?

The simple answer appears to be that it is easier to sue pensioners, school children and single mothers into bankruptcy than go after the real criminals.

We want to hear your thoughts on music / movie piracy. Why is it that when you buy a toaster that turns out to be a piece of junk, you can return it for a full refund, yet the same doesn't apply when you pay £7 to see the DOOM movie?
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