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
Super Retro-Boy is a compact, minimal reimplementation of Nintendo’s classic Game Boy with the look as well as the tech. It plays real cartidges, including those from the full-color Game Boy Advance—presumably this is why there are four buttons. It gets 10 hours on a charge, and will come with a 10-in-1 game from Retro-Bit […]
A T-Mobile customer in Florida drove her SUV into the store, smashing through the front window and coming to a stop deep in the showroom. Then she emerged from her disabled vehicle, hefted a broken window frame, and smashed a display. “What is wrong with her?” calls out an unseen observer. According to witnesses who […]
Slovenia’s Maheno corporation manufactured a series of Barbie-branded and white label typewriters for kids, with a hidden feature that allowed their owners to use them to produce messages encrypted with a simple substitution cipher.
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]