I've looked at the Class Action settlement very closely. It does nothing to help resolve the problems I've had with my computer, since Sony BMG wasn't required to provide a method of removing XCP without downloading more of their software. I already know what happens when one trusts Sony BMG.

So, today, I filed an individual action against Sony BMG Music Entertainment in the County Court of Hinds County, Mississippi. I sent Mr. Andrew Lack, Sony BMG's CEO, a letter almost two months ago asking for help removing their program without downloading additional software, a replacement cd, and compensation for my time and other damages. Stephanie Yu of Sony BMG answered on December 21, 2005 with the unhelpful suggestion that I download their "uninstaller".

Watch for updates as the matter progresses. If you are also dissatisfied with the class action settlement, you are allowed to send an objection to the Court or opt out and pursue Sony BMG on your own. If, however, your problems will be solved by the settlement, and you trust Sony BMG's "uninstaller", then you should get copies of your reciept ready so that you can file a claim form.

It appears that the New York class action is about to settle. This class action consolidated many of the other cases that were floating around in both New York and other states. This class action effectively settles on behalf of every US citizen who does not opt out. You should monitor this case carefully, as it affects your legal rights.

As terms of the deal, Sony BMG will agree to the following limitations on the use of copy-protection software until 2008:

  • stop manufacturing SONY BMG CDs with XCP and MediaMax software;
  • immediately recall all XCP CDs;
  • provide software to update and uninstall XCP and MediaMax content protection software from consumers' computers;
  • ensure that ongoing fixes to all SONY BMG content protection software are readily available to consumers;
  • implement consumer-oriented changes in operating practices with respect to all CDs with content protection software that SONY BMG manufactures in the next two years;
  • waive specified provisions currently contained in XCP and MediaMax software End-User Licensing Agreements ;
  • refrain from collecting personal information about users of XCP CDs or MediaMax CDs without their affirmative consent; and
  • provide additional settlement benefits to Settlement Class Members including cash payments, "clean" replacement CDs without content protection software, and free music downloads.

Those who wish to pursue their own litigation will need to opt out of the class action. I plan to have the necessary forms available on this website in the next few days. Until then, please feel free to read the Settlement Agreement, Memorandum of Law in Support of the Settlement, and the Hearing Order.

I also suggest you check out the articles at the Washington Post, Red Herring, Michael Geist, and Sunbelt Software.

Mark Russinovich analyzed the behavior of the software contained on some Sony music CDs in his blog entry of October 31, 2005 . His posting pointed out that the poor programming practices at First 4 Internet, the company responsible for the creation of the rootkit, used to design the software could result in security flaws and computer crashes.

A few days later, through the activities of other sites and the news media, a more thorough examination of the software was conducted and the full extent of the program's activity became known. In addition to preventing many legal uses of the CD, it also communicates with Sony each time a disk is played. It did not take long for virus writers to release malicious code that relied on the security flaws created by the Sony Rootkit.

Microsoft has labeled Sony's software as "spyware" and plans to provide tools for its removal. Additionally, Sony is recalling unsold CDs from all stores and now offers an exchange program for the infected CDs. Sony contines to maintain that "there were no security risks associated with the anti- piracy technology", despite the earlier virus and malware reports.

There are four class action lawsuits already filed, with more certainly on the way. One is based in New York and is designed to cover all US citizens, the other in California and focuses solely on Californians.The Texas Attorney General has filed suit. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is expected to file suit Monday, November 21, 2005. It also appears that the Law Firm of Lawrence E. Feldman & Associates is planning to file suit soon.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a list of the infected CDs, and usually gets deeply involved in the legal issues surrounding cases such as these.

At the moment, there is not an easy and safe method for removing the Sony BMG / First 4 Internet Rootkit from your computer. Attempting to manually remove the infection could cripple your computer. The best suggestion is to wait until an independently verified removal utility is available, such as the Microsoft remover noted above.

You should complain. Mr. Andrew Lack, CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, can be reached at 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022 or by phone at 212-833-8000 (you'll have to use the directory and dial his complete name to reach his office).

In many jurisdictions, Sony's fraudulent installation of the rootkit is a crime. You can contact your local police, or your Attorney General. If you contact the Attorney General, ask to speak with both the Consumer Protection Office and, if one exists, the Cybercrime Office. You can also contact the United States Department of Justice and let them know about the problem.

You can file your own lawsuit in small claims court for the damage done to your computer as a result of Sony BMG Music Entertainment's actions. Use th elinks to the right for information specific to your state. These courts exist to allow ordinary citizens to file civil lawsuits for money damages by themselves, no attorney required.

You might also wish to consult an attorney in your area if your computer was harmed. Also, watch for the progress of the class action lawsuits in the news media and here on this site. If you decide to consult an attorney and proceed against Sony yourself, you will likely need to opt out of the class action. Information will be posted when it is available.

You can donate to the EFF and help support their attempts to protect your rights in our digital age.

Finally, and most importantly, you can stop buying Sony products.