Universal Music Group Music Cds may also install rootkits

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 2, 2005
Updated • Apr 29, 2013

And another player joins the ranks of companies that may install spyware on Windows PCs when their music CDs get inserted into the CD drive of said systems. "Fontana Distribution, part of Universal Music Group and distributors for Upstairs Records Inc., are encouraging independent records labels they distribute to use content protection on their CDs. "Twelve Eighteen", featuring the hit song "Summer Nights", carries the same content protection currently being used by Sony BMG.

John Lopez of Upstairs Records commented: "we are very pleased with the seamless production of the album. The media player on the CD has a good user experience and we intend using the technology on more new releases".

That means, watch out if an album that you are interested in uses this new form of protection. I especially like the survey they quote, claiming that "consumers have overwhelmingly reacted positively to these new discs."

I can only think of two possible reasons for this. First, consumers don't know about the software they install on the system and that  it is not easy to uninstall it once it has found its way on the computer. Second, they don't show the survey but only quote it. As long as we won't have hard facts its not possible to draw conclusions. For example, how were the questions phrased, who was asked for their opinion, maybe the majority never used the CDs in their PC.

Take a look at the full press release here.

Update: The site where the press released was published on is no longer available. You can read up on the scandal on Wikipedia which covers every detail of it, including product recalls initiated by Sony as well as class action suits in the state of New York and California.

The backslash was big and public, and we have not heard of any attempts to put rootkit-like protections on music CDs ever since.


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