November 21, 2005

Texas sues Sony BMG for spyware violations

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Sony BMG Music
Entertainment for including "spyware" software on its media
player designed to thwart music copying.

According to the lawsuit filed in Travis County, several of
the company's music compact discs require customers to download
Sony's media players if they want to listen to the CDs on a

Software included with that media player "remains hidden
and active" after installation, the Attorney General's office
said in a statement, and makes users vulnerable to security
risks and possible identity theft.

Sony said on its Web site that it had recalled all CDs that
were installed with its XCP technology designed to prevent
illegal music copying, Abbott said, but Texas investigators
were able to purchase several of the CDs at Austin retailers on

Texas is seeking civil penalties of $100,000 per violation
of the state's Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware
Act, which was enacted earlier this year.

"Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and
dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their
computers," Abbott said in a statement.

Sony was not immediately available to comment on the

The CDs, from 52 popular artists, including Ray Charles,
Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Celine Dion, prompt a user
agreement to appear on consumers' computer screens.

Users are required to accept the agreement in order to play
the CDs on their computer, and Sony's media player is
automatically downloaded to their computers with the hidden