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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sony BMG settles suit over rootkit

Washington and Idaho consumers who installed spyware software through music purchases from Sony BMG are entitled to portions of a total $4.25 million settlement arranged by the company with both states.

The products in question were about 12 million music CDs developed and sold by Sony BMG in 2005. The disks included anti-copying software and other tools that users were not told about. Sony BMG made the settlement after consumer groups pointed out the software was difficult to remove from computers and would leave PCs exposed to vulnerabilities, including viruses.

The settlement with Washington and Idaho each provided $316,000 per state to consumers in each state, according to press releases. That dollar amount was based on estimates for the number of consumers in Washington and Idaho who bought such products.

The maximum payment per claim is about $175, according to settlement records. The amount is meant to cover all costs involved in making sure the initial software, called a rootkit, is removed from a user’s computer. Those who purchased CDs with rootkits will also receive replacements, according to the settlement.

A complete summary of which Sony BMG products are involved is at www.sonybmgcdtech

A total of 40 states entered into the collective settlement as a consumer protection action against Sony BMG. Sony BMG is also entering into a separate settlement with California and Texas.

But consumers also have the choice of not taking their share of the state settlement. Anyone who wishes to file a personal class action claim against the company has that option, provided they haven’t made a filing with the state attorney general’s office for the group settlement.

The Sony BMG Web site will soon have a link that provides consumers directions and summaries of how they can file claims.

Helping drive the initial settlement was the Internet-focused Electronic Frontier Foundation, which launched the first legal challenges against the software used by Sony.

For a complete summary of the EFF effort, along with links to the legal documents filed, go to /Sony-BMG.