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
If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it’s not in use.
Lured by the internet’s pervasive insistence that it represents a superior, more comfortable typing experience, I recently went back to an old-timey mechanical keyboard. This was a mistake. I am now a hamfisted ASCII jazz disaster.
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Jared Sinclair developed the RSS reader app Unread, which made $10,000 in its first 24 hours on the iOS market. And we’ve all heard the story of Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen, whose creation was reportedly earning $50,000 a day at the height of its 2013 explosion. While those are rare examples, they’re also testament to the […]