Monday, November 14, 2005
And in more Sony BMG news, apparently they have a similar copy-protect system for Macs, though it's really easy to not install it. Really, this is just silly. However, it gets worse: there is an "End-User License Agreement" attached to ALL Sony digital music whether from online or their CDs, just like your usual software has a license agreement - you know, that thing you never read and just click "I Agree" because you want to install the software? - and that EULA has some pretty outrageous stuff in it.
Here I reprint some stuff sent to me by my friend and music biz impresario, Phil Hardy (warning, Flash site), which he received in a music biz newsletter from a guy named Bob Lefsetz. I'm just going to drop in a few parts, but the title of this story is "Bring me the Head of Andy Lack" - Lack is the president of Sony Music. Read on:
And then there's the ridiculous End-User License Agreement. Which Sony says makes their behavior all right.
I'm a member of the California Bar, and I don't read this shit. But now somebody has. And this is what they say the license states:
"1. If your house gets burgled, you have to delete all your music from your laptop when you get home. That's because the EULA says that your rights to any copies terminate as soon as you no longer possess the original CD.
2. You can't keep your music on any computers at work. The EULA only gives you the right to put copies on a 'personal home computer system owned by you.'
3. If you move out of the country, you have to delete all your music. The EULA specifically forbids 'export' outside the country where you reside.
4. You must install any and all updates, or else lose the music on your computer. The EULA immediately terminates if you fail to install any update. No more holding out on those hobble-ware downgrades masquerading as updates.
5. Sony-BMG can install and use backdoors in the copy protection software or media player to 'enforce their rights' against you, at any time, without notice. And Sony-BMG disclaims any liability if this 'self help' crashes your computer, exposes you to security risks, or any other harm.
6. The EULA says Sony-BMG will never be liable to you for more than $5.00. That's right, no matter what happens, you can't even get back what you paid for the CD.
7. If you file for bankruptcy, you have to delete all the music on your computer. Seriously.
8. You have no right to transfer the music on your computer, even along with the original CD.
9. Forget about using the music as a soundtrack for your latest family photo slideshow, or mash-ups, or sampling. The EULA forbids changing, altering, or make derivative works from the music on your computer."
Just because somebody wrote it, that doesn't mean it's going to stand up in court. And without laying out legal theory, I guarantee you the above wouldn't stand in a court of law. First and foremost it's not a proper warning, because the average person neither reads nor understands an End-User License Agreement, AND to enforce this agreement would be inequitable.
Sony needs to do a big mea culpa here.
People believe all the Net urban legends, no matter WHAT Sony's position, some people will still believe the CDs are going to mess up their machines. Hell, Sony should remove all copy protection from their discs and give away MP3s for free on their site to combat the negative publicity.
But in the closed foxhole, er, I mean boardroom, these guys live in, they don't understand the breadth of their faux pas.
Boy oh boy, you guys have really screwed it up with this DRM malware installation thing. What I really can't believe is how arrogant and unresponsive you're being about it all. You are damaging people's computers and making them vulnerable to hackers and viruses, and you really just don't seem to care, do you.
You are chiseling the imprint in your corporate headstone by doing what you're doing. Nobody wants your DRM-infested music. Nobody wants your silly DRM-loaded proprietary-formatted music players. You have really, really offended a lot of people, and it's going to hurt you.
Everyone I know who likes music at all is appalled by your arrogance, selfishness and foolishness in your greedy attempt to control every aspect of your customers's listening experience. I'm sorry, but you have lost control of the "vinyl," and you're not going to get it back no matter what you do. Hard media like CDs are going the way of the dodo, and you will not be able to recover control in the rapidly-expanding world of online storage and file transfer. I know many people have been telling you this, and you've been ignoring them for what, about 8 years now? Too bad you can't act like a company should, and adapt to a new set of business model requirements, instead of attempting to maintain your old business model which simply does not work anymore.
I have been a loyal Sony customer on the hardware side for more than 20 years now; I have at least $15,000 worth of Sony hardware just in my living room entertainment center, and when I used CRT monitors for my Apple Macs, Sony was the only brand I'd buy. I have been extremely happy with all my Sony hardware, which has always been of exceptional quality and reliability.
Lots of my old favorite music artists were and are still on Sony labels. BMG, not so much, but I know I have stuff from them.
I've explained my prior history with you, because I want you to understand very very clearly what I'm saying with the rest of this email.
I'm really quite offended by your actions with this DRM malware. You are endangering peoples's personal computers and any information thereon, for no good reason and really out of your own fear and greed. Therefore, from this point onwards, I will no longer buy anything that Sony or BMG sells. Until you abandon your arrogant and futile attempts to keep hold of the shreds of your market, I will not buy anything you make, even though I've been a loyal customer, and I will urge everyone I know to also stop buying your products of all kinds.
I was going to buy a beautiful Sony large-screen TV for Christmas this year, but instead I'm going to get the Mitsubishi. You lose a $9,000 sale.
I'm kind of sad about this, but you've gone too far.
I'm sending a copy of this email to your hardware division as well, with the recommendation that the Sony Corporation sell off all its content divisions immediately, so they can get back to making awesome electronic hardware, without your DRM demands destroying their business.
Good luck, folks... you're gonna need it.
Los Angeles, CA