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SONY BMG COMPACT DISCS RECALLED [12/08/2005]

MADIGAN: RECALLED SONY BMG COMPACT DISCS COULD LEAVE COMPUTERS VULNERABLE TO VIRUSES

Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today alerted consumers that Sony BMG compact discs containing copy protection software raise privacy concerns and could potentially leave computers vulnerable to certain viruses. Madigan urged consumers who have purchased these compact discs to protect their computers.

Madigan said Sony BMG Music Entertainment recalled and stopped manufacturing compact discs containing extended copy protection (XCP) software after security concerns were identified. Prior to the recall, Sony BMG distributed 52 compact disc titles containing the XCP software. A complete list of titles is available online at: http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/titles.html.

Madigan said her office is investigating the consumer protection and privacy issues related to this matter and has requested information from Sony BMG regarding its compact discs and the problematic software.

Although Sony BMG has recalled its compact discs containing XCP software, there are reports that some of these compact discs may remain on stores’ shelves. Consumers are advised not to purchase any XCP compact discs that may remain on the shelves. Recalled compact discs can be identified by looking at the back of the compact disc case. If a black and white grid and the words “compatible with” appear on the back of the case, then the compact disc contains copy protection software. If “XCP” appears in the Web address at the bottom of the grid, then the compact disc contains XCP software.

Consumers who have purchased XCP compact discs should not play the compact discs on their computers because the program that must be downloaded to listen to the compact discs contains hidden technology that can leave computers vulnerable to certain viruses. If consumers already have played the compact discs on their computers, that means the XCP software has been downloaded and their computers may be vulnerable to certain viruses. 

To remove the XCP software, consumers must download a customized uninstall program available on Sony BMG’s Web site at: http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/updates.html. The program cannot be removed by using standard uninstall options provided by Microsoft Windows. Sony BMG is offering an exchange program for consumers who have purchased compact discs containing the XCP software.  For more information, visit: http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp.

In addition, Sony BMG previously used another type of copy protection software, called MediaMax, which also raises privacy concerns for consumers and security issues for computers on which it is downloaded. The uninstall program and patch currently available to address the security risks may be insufficient to address fully the security concerns and may create additional security concerns. Computer experts recommend that until a sufficient patch is developed, consumers should not use the MediaMax uninstall program or patch. Additionally, consumers who use the Windows computer operating system should not listen to MediaMax CDs on their computers.

Although Sony BMG has discontinued using MediaMax software, the company has not recalled its compact discs with MediaMax software. To identify compact discs containing MediaMax software, consumers can consult the list on Sony BMG’s Web site at www.sonybmg.com. Consumers also can look at the back of the compact disc case. If “SunnComm” appears in the Web address at the bottom of the grid, then the compact disc contains MediaMax software. One exception is the “Defined” CD by Amici, which does contain MediaMax software but does not have a grid on the back of its case.

More information regarding both types of copy protection software is available at www.eff.org. This Web site is created and operated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy and consumer rights advocacy group. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General is not responsible for the content of the Sony BMG Web site or the Electronic Frontier Foundation Web site.

Consumers who experience problems with their computers as a result of either XCP or MediaMax software are encouraged to contact Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau at 1-800-243-0618 or obtain a consumer complaint form from Madigan’s Web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/conscomp.pdf.

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