Boycott Sony

This doesn’t affect me, because I have been on a de facto boycott of RIAA labels for years now and I don’t use a Windows machine in any significant way but now Sony Music has really crossed the line. By installing rootkits on your PC when you insert their music CDs that then corrupt your PC if you try to remove it, they have really and truly screwed the pooch. As I understand it from reading online, their rootkit that is there to ensure you aren’t playing their music without permission does not identify itself as such. If, like any good listener of recent episodes of Security Now, you try to remove this as the malware that it is, it will screw up your machine. You have no way of knowing ahead of time this will happen (unless you are reading blog posts about it), and no redress after the fact. Also, any savvy author of rootkit malware that currently can be removed will probably be buying a copy of the Van Zant Brothers CD and decompiling their rootkit to figure out that technique, increasing the state of the art of rootkit authors everywhere. Thanks Sony.

The line has been crossed. People of conscience should cease today buying Sony Music products of all kinds. Sony obviously doesn’t care about you if they are willing to put your PCs, all your personal or business data at risk in order to prevent you from playing an MP3. Who needs them? Give them what they want, don’t ever play their pirated MP3s but also don’t ever buy their CDs either. There are one million songs out there released free and clear by artists who want your attention and are not going to destroy your computer for listening to them.

As of today, if you buy Sony Music products you are supporting criminal activity.

Addenda: If you look at the original post where this came to light, one of the commentors notes that in the long run, Sony has made it more reasonable for you to download illegal MP3s of their music than buy it, because you don’t put yourself at risk that way. The most basic rule of all business and life for that matter is “incent the behavior you want to happen.” When you screw people for paying you money, you screw yourself in the long run.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

29 thoughts on “Boycott Sony”

  1. Wayne says:

    Thanks for the article Dave. I wonder though, on my Windows box, I keep the Autorun default turned off. Would this even affect my machine?

    Funny, there was a time where I would choose an album because I liked the artist, now I have to decide based on thier employer.

  2. Cody Sims says:

    Absolutely. I have had an unofficial boycott on Sony Music going for a while now and this just clinches it.

    I think it is worth it to say also that any band that care about their listeners should either (1) stay far, far away from the depraved money-grubbers at Sony, or (2) if they are already signed there, burn thir damn contracts.

    That is all

  3. donna says:

    please forgive my technological ignorance, but is this something new? i thought Sony has been doing this for as long as about 4 years. or, maybe it was something a bit different they were doing before this time?… a few years ago a friend in Europe warned me that Sony was somehow infecting PCs when you tried to burn a copy of a CD on the Sony label. i know that my burning program on my PC (i was a PC user back then, now i’m a Mac person) was disabled after i tried to burn a copy of a major label. happened to my sister, too. just cannot remember if Sony was the major label.

  4. Ken Nelson says:


    Presuming I’m now running 0-for-3 on trackbacks, I’ve commented on this post myself on my humble blog:

    If this is a call to arms, count me in; I’ve mentioned a couple of items in my blog post that I’d be willing to help with.


  5. Tilted Edge says:

    I have a Fujitsu laptop but I don’t use their XP. Recently my hard drive died and out of sheer curiosity, I installed the Fujitsu Windows XP. I got 320 rootkits! This is a growing trend and something that needs to be stopped now. You are right to point out it’s a Microsoft problem.

    I was annoyed that Apple made quicktime my default mp3 player in Firefox when I installed iTunnes. They never asked me if I wanted that. I will not use iTunes ever again. I use Quicktime Alternative and Real Alternative instead of quicktime and real audio. Just say NO to bloat and spyware!

  6. Eddie Dickey says:

    Holy shit! that’s vandalism. And I would even say a threat to national security (I’m not joking)..

  7. hugh says:

    Watch your back Dave! Soon Sony may move ahead of you in the Google ranking for “Evil”.

  8. Ken Nelson says:

    “Boycott Sony” badges available at:

    Nothing fancy, kinda like me.


  9. Eric Rice says:

    I’m curious about boycotting a specific label. Does the music-listening associate bands with labels? I couldn’t tell you what label owns Metallica or Eric Clapton or Britney. But I’d be willing to bet that *bands* are like, oh yeah, we started with Rhino and then BOOM! We got a Warner Bros. deal!

    I couldn’t boycott Sony because I’m label ignorant (or is that apathetic). What bands are on the Sony Label and how many clicks does it take for me to do that? 😉

  10. Ken Nelson says:

    Eric: good points. People probably don’t associate band A with label X. And label X may not DRM all of their CDs. I think it’s important, though, that listeners be aware of what’s going on, and examine the packaging before purchasing. Sony’s DRMed stuff was supposedly labeled.

    As for Sony Artists, it’s a one-click world:

    Again, not everyone on the list is DRMed, I’d guess. If it were me, I’d give any of ’em some extra screening.


  11. PJ Cabrera says:


    Thanks for the heads up. All my Windows-using friends and family have been warned.

    I’ve always ripped my CDs on my Linux server, because the labels’ idiot DRM doesn’t work there in any case. And when I buy from iTunes, I burn the songs to a CD-RW, and rip it to 256Kbps MP3s. That way I protect my purchase with a backup.

    “Sony has made it more reasonable for you to download illegal MP3s of their music than buy it, because you don’t put yourself at risk that way.”

    Indeed! Or get a $200 US dollar Windows-free PC from or, and a $30 US dollar KVM switch. Put Linux on the PC, and rip CDs, DRM or not, without worries. If that’s too technical for ya, get a $500 US dollar Mac Mini and the aforementioned KVM switch. (Or wait to the few weeks right after new Mac models start shipping, and get last year’s best Mac models cheap on eBay.) Windows DRM doesn’t work on Macs.

    If don’t want the expense of an extra PC at all, buy the album on iTunes, then make an MP3 backup.

  12. PJ Cabrera says:

    Found this on a followup article on SysInternals. I didn’t write this, a SysInternals reader did …


    That “Brown Sugar” CD found on the Amazon link with that review you posted just bugged me as the record LABEL is MCA and this CD was released in Sept. 2002 – the reviewer wrote that in MAY 2003 (link: )

    As I dug a bit deeper, I found this bit: “In 1995, Seagram Company Ltd. acquired 80% of MCA INC. and the following year the new owners dropped the MCA name; the company became Universal Studios, Inc. and it’s music division, MCA Music Entertainment Group, was renamed Universal Music Group.” (link: )

    And in connecting the dots, First4Internet was founded in 1999 , and their clients include not only Sony but First4Internet’s other clients – include Universal Music Group , Warner Music Group and EMI – using the technology. (link: )

    So I guess not only should we be concerned with SONY Labels and all it’s other record labels as posted by Gnomalarta earlier here,
    but ANY company and their record labels of various names that has ANY involvement with First4Internet!


    I think rather than boycott Sony, let’s boycott customers of First4Internet, and let’s make enough noise that customers of First4Internet think twice before buying any more of their DRM (they’ll just go for the next screwball DRM programmer wannabe, but that will help us expose them all quicker as the quack jobs the whole DRM field has become. 🙂

    The Sony folks were just paying for DRM for their music. Clueless as they are, we all know that above a certain executive level, management just buys “solutions” and don’t care for the details (which in any case is always the wrong decision. That’s why, typically, management = clueless.)

    It’s First4Internet that wrote and sold Sony this rootkit as a DRM “solution”. Let’s make noise and let every label know we will not stand for their laughable excuse of a DRM system.

  13. I’ve always been a fan of Sony. Betamax was a great product in its day and Sony actually fought to make recording TV shows legal. What a reversal! Now as my Sony gear dies (the CD player is already getting flakey), it will be replaced by gear that is not made by Sony. Even if I have to buy Chinese slave labor products instead.

    Replying to another comment, Sony does not get to plead ignorance of First4Internet’s software. They knew exactly what it did and how it worked.

    I am linking this page on my own boycott page. Anyone else with boycott sony pages let me know and I will see about linking to them. Naturally links to my page are more than welcome 🙂

  14. phil says:


    first buy a discman – sony make good ones!
    insert audio disc
    link discman headfone.line out to pc soundcard line in
    play cd
    record each track one at a time
    re-assemble audion cd on pc
    burn to disc – every copy from that burn will be copyright protection free.

    Simple, innit?!

    The protects you if you copy a legally purchased audio product. You are allowed to make as many copies for your own use as you like – one for the car, one for the living room, one for the bedroom, one for the gym, yadda yadda!

  15. Brian Grittner says:

    Up until the time that CD writers came out I never used to buy CDs, I’d mostly just listen to the radio in my car. I didn’t feel that switching between a boatload of CDs while driving down the road would be safe or practical.

    But when CD writers came out I bought a bunch of CDs that had my favorite songs on them so I could take the one song on the CD I liked (usually) and combine it with the one song I liked from a bunch of other CDs. I ended up with only three CDs packed with songs I liked. The little switching I did could be done safely at a stop light!

    That all stopped when I couldn’t grab the track I wanted off of a CD because it was copy protected. I’m sure there was an easy way to get around the copy protection, but I just didn’t feel like expending the effort. So figuring that any CD I bought might be copy protected, I stopped buying CDs and went back to listening to the radio or one of my “favorite” CDs.

    I wonder how many other people quit buying CDs for the same reason. Recently I saw a graph in the newspaper showing music CD sales over the last 15 years, and I noticed that sales seemed to spike about the time that CD writers became widely available, and started to decline when they began copy protecting their CDs.

    I’m curious just how badly the music industry is shooting itself in the foot with the copy protection and suing its customers. I suspect a lot of people quit buying CDs in disgust over the RIAA’s recent behavior. I know I would have if I hadn’t quit buying them already.

  16. David says:

    This DRM software apparently DOES install on Mac OSX. And the uninstaller released for PC’s really puts a hole in your security system. No uninstaller released yet for Macs.

  17. Ken Nelson says:

    David (#19), is correct, that DRM is from SunComm, and is installable on MacOSX. You need admin rights to install it, so it should be obvious to a Mac user that something beyond playing a CD is going on. So in that regard, Macs offer a layer of protection. I’ve made a few comments on Sony on my blog:

    And a very good “Boycott Sony” blog has taken flight at

    If anyone has not been a fan of indie, pod-safe music before, there’s no time like the present to discover same. If Sony wants to control the use of their product, there’s no better way for them to do that than by our not listening, or buying. Win-win.

    “and best of all… it’s NOT a Sony”

  18. Gary says:

    You have to boycott all things sony. Watch out for the movies. It proably has the same or similar copy protection. All this will probably wreck havoc with a several 1000 dollar multimedia pc. Of course they have been attempting this for quite a while and so who knows what elese they have done. I have always used Sony products. But no more. They got my attention, i guess they don’t need me.

  19. This is very important people… so listen up. Not only do you need to boycott Sony… you need to boycott any artist that is signed with Sony. Not b/c they’ve done anything wrong but b/c THEY will light a fire under Sony that only they can. If Sony gets it from both their customers and artists there is a much better chance that something actually gets done. My 0.02$

  20. WES says:

    [Moderator’s note: I almost rejected this comment and let it sit in the moderation queue for a long time. Ad hominem attacks are not welcome on this blog, and doing it to people on the same side of the argument as you is counterproductive.]

    To the person that said to boycott First4Internet – hello have you been paying attention? Sony has another DRM system – SunnComm MediaMax. I think you’d be stupid if you believe that Sony didn’t have a clue what XCP is going to do. Any way someone high up in sony approved the DRM system so it is Sony’s fault and they have to accept the consequences instead of the crap their pulling now

    Secondly Sony IS NOT apologising for this debacle, they don’t care if people who legally bought their CD’s are getting screwed around, they only care about their legal position (apologising means they admit wrong doing and more legal action could follow). Sony maybe removing XCP protected CD’s but they’re going to continue screwing people over with their newer DRM’s.

    I’m Boycotting Sony, and I’m encouraging everyone I know to do so and pass the word on, If sony is going to piss off customers they’re going to be the ones to suffer.

  21. Joanna Samsel says:

    Boycott Sony? And from now on stop listening to our favourite artists because they signed (5, 10, 15 years ago) with wrong company?
    Are you crazy? This way you will punish artists (and they are not responisible for all this!) – not the company! I have a very poor opinion of SONY MUSIC myself (for other, not technical, reasons) – but boycottig is not a best thing to do…
    After all, CDs are not ONLY technology, it’s also MUSIC? Am I wrong?

  22. WES says:

    Its unfortunate that the artists will suffer, because from what I’ve read some of the artists are angry at Sony for doing this. The problem is Sony still thinks what they did is OK, they refuse to apologise for the problem their CDs have caused and even though the rootkit poses a security risk they won’t provide an uninstall program to get rid of it. I’ve also read an article saying that they’re still selling the XCP protected CDs. Shows how much sony cares about the situation they’ve created, and I doubt they’ll do anything until consumers make a stand.

    So yeah IMO you are wrong on this one, the fact is the only way to teach a huge company a lesson is to hit them were it hurts – their hip pocket. When they finally realise what they did was wrong and actually do something about it (apologise, compensate and remove their intrusive DRM) that’s when I’ll stop boycotting them, but until then I’ll continue to turn as many people away from sony as I can. As for the artists – well if sony continues to have little respect for their customers, should look for another label, one that won’t use such underhanded tactics as sony has.

  23. WES says:

    To the moderator – I apologise, I shouldn’t have gone down that road, and though the guy agreed that XCP was a bad move we disagreed completely on who was to blame. I just felt that guy was insulting my intelligence by claiming that sony are innocent because they had no clue, that would be the same as saying its all the Atom Bomb makers fault that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. The fact remains that the people in charge are the ones approving these activities and so the blame lies solely with them. And to that poster – claiming ignorance doesn’t mean you can just shift the blame.

    I’m normally not fired up about things, and had sony apologised and backed down I probably wouldn’t be posting here. It just annoys me that sony continues to use XCP, and what I fear is if sony gets away with it more companies will follow and we’ll find more intrusive software in our PC’s.

    We’ve got to draw the line somewere.

  24. George says:

    Im guessing that the artist will have to take this into account before signing on with loser companies like Sony.


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