Sonys DRM: It Just Keeps Getting Worse

Opinion: Just when you thought Sony's DRM mess was bad enough, along comes SunnComm's MediaMax DRM.

When I wrote last week about Sony DRM mess, I opined that it would serve MBAs of the future as a textbook example of how not to do things.

It turns out that theres even more things that Sony is doing, without permission, to their customers computers with another DRM system.

People more savvy than me about Windows (like J. Alex Halderman) have discovered that SunnComms MediaMax DRM installs itself on Windows systems as well as Mac systems.

While most attention has been focused on the XCP rootkit that the Sony/BMG installs on PCs, this additional DRM has been flying under the radar in the Windows world.

/zimages/2/28571.gifSonys DRM rootkit comes in Mac flavor, too. Click here to read more.

The DRM acts like a virus in many ways. When a Sony DRM-protected CD is inserted, the autorun feature of Windows immediately invokes a program called PlayDisc.exe.

Though it displays a EULA, all the files the DRM needs are inserted on the hard drive at C:\Program Files\Common Files\SunnComm Shared\ before the EULA appears.

The only difference detected thus far between accepting and rejecting the EULA is that acceptance causes the DRM to launch every time the OS starts up.

The DRM files remain installed on the hard disk even if the EULA is declined.

Like a virus, there is no meaningful uninstaller available. Now, some of the DRM protected CDs will indeed add an entry for SunnComm to the Add/Remove control panel.

When activated, it removes most of the files in the shared folder, but leaves the core copy protection module (sbcphid.sys) active and resident.

That means other programs (like iTunes) cant access other SunnComm protected CDs. But wait, theres more. MediaMax "phones home" without your consent every time you play the CD. When a CD is played, a request is sent to a SunnComm server that includes an ID along with the request that identifies the CD.

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