Sony BMG Sues Mediamax Developer

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Remember back in 2005 and 2006, Sony BMG repeatedly shot itself in the foot with its handling of controversial copy protection software embedded in selected audio CDs? In an effort to cut down on music piracy, Sony experimented with two copy protection schemes on standard audio CDs. The technologies went by the names XCP and Mediamax, and Sony got itself into trouble in two ways: first, it never really told consumers what they might be installing on their computers when they used the CDs; and, second, both copy protection schemes led to vulnerabilities attackers could exploit to steal personal information or take over the computer. Sony BMG was sued by, well, almost everyone, was forced to recall the CDs, offer refunds, and promise it wouldn’t do anything similar for a little while.

Now an ironic postscript to that long-running saga: Sony BMG has filed suit against The Amergence Group—formerly known as SunnComm International—seeking $12 million in damages. Sony claims that it was forced to pay out nearly $6 million in damages to consumers after consumers reported problems with their computers running the Mediamax software. Amergence disputes the charges, and says the issues with the Mediamax software were do to a competitor’s technology (e.g. XCP), and that Sony BMG had "final authority" in determining the specs for the Mediamax software. In other words, if there were problems, Sony BMG is responsible, not Amergence.

Mediamax copy protection software was the least-distributed of the two controversial technologies Sony BMG deployed, going out on about 32 CD released in the United States and Canada. Far more titles were released with XCP copy protection technology. Users concerned they may still have the copy protection software on their computers can view a list of titles on the Sony BMG site, as well as download uninstallers. Customers can also claim reimbursement for copy-protected CDs through December 31, 2007.

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