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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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Attorney General Long Joins 39 Other States in Settlement with SONY BMG

Attorney General Long Joins 39 Other States in Settlement with SONY BMG 

PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Larry Long announced today that SONY BMG Music Entertainment has agreed to pay South Dakota and 39 other states the sum of $4.25 million to resolve the States’ investigation into problems that arose when SONY BMG placed anti-copying software on music CDs. The settlement, an Assurance of Discontinuance also sets forth SONY BMG’s agreement to broad injunctive relief terms which will prevent SONY BMG from using anticopying software on its music CDs in the future without first complying with the reforms required by the settlement.

During 2005, SONY BMG distributed more than 12 million CDs with two kinds of anticopying software. SONY BMG did not tell consumers that the CDs contained anti-copying software or Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. One version of the software was called XCP and this software was designed to hide or "cloak" a number of the program’s files and operations. XCP made Windows-based computers vulnerable to security threats, including viruses and other problems. 

Also, when consumers did discover XCP on their computers, they experienced problems when they tried on their own to remove the software. Some consumers who tried to remove XCP had their CD-ROM drives crash.

Another version of the anti-copying software used by SONY BMG, called MediaMax, caused a driver to download on a consumer’s computer even if the consumer declined to accept the software. One version of MediaMax, Media Max 5.0, also created a security vulnerability on consumer’s computers.

Under the terms of the settlement, SONY BMG will provide refunds up to $175 to all consumers who experienced harm to their computers when they sought to remove the DRM software. Refund claims must be submitted to SONY BMG through a claims process which SONY BMG will publicize on its website.

The injunctive relief provisions will specifically prohibit SONY BMG from using XCP or MediaMax DRM software in the future, and will sharply limit the ways in which SONY BMG may use anti-copying software in the future. If it does choose to use DRM software in the future, SONY BMG must inform consumers about it.

States participating in today’s settlement are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, and by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.