Aaron Perzanowski and Deirdre Mulligan have just posted a wonderful pre-publication paper called "The Magnificence of the Disaster: Reconstructing the Sony BMG Rootkit Incident," which will shortly be published in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. Exhaustively researched and footnoted -- but written in clear, non-lawyerese prose -- The Magnificence of the Disaster comprehensively analyses the madness that led Sony-BMG to install dangerous, illegal rootkit anti-copying software as well as spyware (produced by a company founded to supply Elvis impersonators, no less!) on millions of its CDs, leading the company to enormous financial and legal penalties.
Potential customers who were aware of the existence and dangers
posed by Sony BMG’s protection measures steered clear of XCP discs.
The sales history of Get Right with the Man, an XCP-infected album by
Van Zant that was released some six months prior to the rootkit announcement, is emblematic of the online retail impact of the rootkit incident. On November 2, just two days after the initial public announcement
of the rootkit, Get Right with the Man ranked at number 887 on the music
charts at Amazon.com.61 The next day, after Amazon user reviews alerted
shoppers to the dangers posed by XCP, the album dropped to number
1,392.62 By the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the XCP recall was underway and the album plummeted to number 25,802.63 In contrast, in retail
environments in which customers had less immediate access to information about the dangers of XCP, sales of Get Right with the Man were relatively undisturbed.64 Since brick and mortar retailers like Wal-Mart, the
nation’s leading seller of CDs,65 do not facilitate the sort of customer
feedback common to online retailers, this outcome is hardly surprising...
SunnComm, the company that delivered MediaMax, offered even
more cause for concern. The company began as a provider of Elvis impersonation services.114 After a change in management following a false press
release announcing a non-existent $25 million production deal with Warner Brothers,115 the company purchased a 3.5” floppy disk factory in 2001,
displaying a disturbing dearth of technological savvy.116 After two em-
ployees announced their intention to leave the fledgling company to de-
velop copy protection software, SunnComm convinced the pair to lead a
new division, leaving both Elvis and floppy discs behind in order to de-
velop what would become MediaMax.117
Dyson, makers of high-end vacuum cleaners and other gadgets that do clever things with air, is moving into beauty products. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer promises a premium model’s power in a smaller, quieter package, and was built around the company’s smallest motor yet. It’s priced at $400, too — apparently not unreasonable for salon […]
For years, Geoff Manaugh has entertained and fascinated us with his BLDGBLOG, and now he’s even better at full-length, with A Burglar’s Guide to the City (previously), a multidisciplinary, eclectic, voraciously readable book that views architecture, built environments, and cities themselves through the lens of breaking-and-entering.
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