Feeds

EFF volunteers to lose important suit over Sony 'rootkit'

Still securing precedents for the other side

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Opinion The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is renowned for its impeccable taste in the battles it fights on behalf of consumers, and for its uncanny ability to stuff every case up in ways that lead to permanent injury for everyone except the entities they oppose.

So it's with some trepidation that we report their latest foray into inevitable - and for you and me, costly - failure. EFF is taking on Sony BMG over the infamous XCP "rootkit" distributed as a surprise DRM package in several of its music CDs.

The legal outfit has filed a class action lawsuit over Sony's XCP malware, and its MediaMax malware for good measure, demanding that the company repair all of the computers it has infected. And well it should.

This is a very good cause. Sony installed stealth spyware on many thousands of Windows computers (although calling it a rootkit is an exaggeration), and it's crucial that the company get its bottom spanked quite painfully as a deterrent to its sister cartels in the entertainment racket.

This is, in fact, such an important matter that the worst possible development would be to find the EFF arguing the case. That's because EFF will do what it always does: lose, and set a legal precedent beneficial to the entertainment pigopolists. By the time these pale vegetarians get finished, spreading musical malware will be considered a spiritual work of mercy.

Lest readers think this prediction too pessimistic, let's review EFF's major accomplishments.

They sent Lawrence Lessig before the US Supreme Court to make a muddle of Eldred v. Ashcroft, an important case that's now settled in favor of the media pigopolists.

They persuaded Princeton University Computer Science Professor Edward Felten to withdraw from a talk on the old SDMI challenge, and later trumpeted it as an example of speech being "chilled" by DMCA threats. (Yet, once he'd enacted that media stunt, Felten delivered his talk at a different conference and survived without a scratch.)

Meanwhile, EFF sued to get a research exemption to the DMCA - a worthwhile cause to be sure - and, predictably, blew that as well. There's another precedent for the other side.

They defended two amateur online journos against Apple's ham-fisted effort to silence criticism, and got beat down severely: another bad precedent.

They also defended 2600 publisher Eric Corely, who was barred from posting or linking to the DeCSS DVD descrambling utility of "DVD Jon" fame, and they lost.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Related stories

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.