Digital Rights Management

Extended Copy Protection (XCP aka Sony Rootkit)

In November of 2005, Sony BMG Music Entertainment was in the headlines because of the dangerous consequences of their decision to place First 4 Internet Ltd’s XCP technology on selected audio CD’s. (See Rob’s December 12 Sony’s Rootkit article). The software would load onto a person’s hard drive when an XCP protected audio CD was inserted into their PC. The purpose of the software was to limit the number of copies that CD owners could make. The technology used rootkit hiding techniques that could be used by other hackers to enter a PC without the owner’s permission. As a result of the pressure from the media and consumers, Sony has stopped distributing and using the XCP technology.

SunnComm MediaMax

Although it didn’t receive the attention of XCP, a second type of copy protection, SunnComm’s MediaMax, was and still is being distributed on audio CD’s from Sony BMG and several smaller labels. Although, MediaMax does not use the rootkit technology, it exhibits much of the bad behavior of the XCP CDs Sony recalled. Both of them can analyze your music playing habits and send information back to Sony for analysis.

To better understand the magnitude of this digital rights management technology, PC Pitstop began collecting statistics on the prevalence of XCP and MediaMax in late November 2005.

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