[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Tuesday, 2005-12-06

Sony gets sued

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Music — bblackmoor @ 18:12

From the moment I learned about the illegal hacking of customers’ computers by Sony, I have been calling and writing my legislators to urge them to initiate legal action against the company.

Well, it looks like the ball has started rolling.

According to eWeek, Sony’s legal problems have begun, and hopefully they will continue for quite a while.

“The allegation that Sony has incorporated open-source software into its purportedly proprietary software in a manner inconsistent with the Open Source General Public License, if established, would create a nice irony,” said Simon J. Frankel, an IP (intellectual property) attorney and partner with Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin LLP in San Francisco.

“The entire purpose of open-source software is to make broadly useful software available for all to build on. For Sony to take such software and incorporate it into software that it claims as proprietary would be contrary to the entire spirit of open source,” Frankel said.

“The improper use of GPL software by Sony could be the basis of a claim for violation of the GPL, which could prevent Sony from utilizing the rootkit program to the extent that it includes GPL software and, if a proper party were definable, could even subject Sony to damages claims under the license and copyright principles,” said Michael R. Graham, IP attorney and partner with Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, a Chicago-based law firm specializing in IP.

Not long after that, the lawsuits bagan. The first suit came from the EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation), but it was soon followed by a suit from the state of Texas.

“On a very basic level of product liability law, if Sony is distributing a product that causes damage to consumers, then it may well be held liable,” Frankel said.

“There also appears to be a particular Texas statute that may make Sony liable for distributing spyware to consumers’ computers. This potential legal liability only piles on to the tremendous public relations snafu caused by Sony’s media player,” Frankel added.

(from eWeek, Sony’s Rootkit DRM Raises Legal Red Flags)

Way to go, Texas! Time for Virginia to step up to the plate.

Indeed, one way or another, thanks to its use and licensing of XCP DRM, Sony may be in for quite a legal shipwreck.

By all the gods of music and video, let’s hope so.