April 18, 2007 | By Hugh D'Andrade

Sony's Latest DRM Backfire

Sony, one of the companies that brought you the Sony-BMG "rootkit" copy protection system for CDs, has once again used DRM to inflict inconvenience on its legitimate customers.

New Sony DVD releases like ?Stranger Than Fiction? and ?Casino Royale? come with copy protection technologies that makes the movies unplayable on some DVD players ? including reportedly at least one Sony machine!

Along with the DRM locks typically used on DVDs, Sony is using a system called ARccOS that is supposed to make copying more difficult by hiding corrupted data on the disc. But while plenty of DVD copying software is sophisticated enough to bypass the corrupt data, many players are not.

It's bad enough that content providers like Sony use DRM to intentionally limit legitimate uses. These sort of arbitrary, bizarre compatibility problems make matters even worse, and they're becoming more and more common consequences of DRM. After initially reacting to complaints by telling customers to update the firmware on their devices, Sony is now promising to send a replacement DVD to any unsatisfied customers.

This is yet another example of the ways in which DRM is not only useless against "piracy" (DVD ripping software defeats ARccOS), but actually works against the interests of content owners. After all, if a movie fan has legitimately purchased a DVD, only to find it unplayable on her DVD player, she now has yet another reason to go looking to The Pirate Bay for a copy that works.

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