For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: December 21, 2006

Idahoans to Get Refunds from Music CD Hidden Software Settlement

(Boise) – Idaho consumers may receive refunds of up to $175 from a legal settlement with SONY BMG Music Entertainment, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. The settlement resolves the states’ investigation into problems that arose when SONY BMG placed anti-copying software on music CDs.

During 2005, SONY BMG distributed more than 12 million CDs with two kinds of anticopying software. SONY BMG did not inform consumers that the CDs contained the anti-copying software.

One version of the software was called XCP. This software was designed to hide or “cloak” a number of the program’s files and operations. XCP created vulnerabilities on Windows-based computers by exposing them to possible viruses and other security problems. Consumers could experience CD-ROM drive “crashes” when they try to remove the XCP software.

Another version of the anti-copying software, called MediaMax, caused a driver to download on a consumer’s computer even if the consumer declined to accept the software. One version of MediaMax (Media Max 5.0) also created a security vulnerability on consumers’ computers.

“When you buy a music CD, you don’t expect it to come with hidden software that could expose your computer to viruses and other security problems,” Attorney General Wasden said. “Companies who use technology to protect their interests should be up-front with consumers, so that consumers can make informed choices about buying and using their products.”

SONY BMG will provide refunds up to $175 to all consumers who experienced harm to their computers when they sought to remove the software. Refund claims must be submitted to SONY BMG through a claims process, which SONY BMG will publicize on its website. Additional information is available on the Consumer Settlements Page of the Attorney General’s website. The Attorney General will post a link to the SONY BMG settlement website when that site becomes operational.

Consumers who purchased SONY BMG music CDs and played them on their computers may not have discovered the anti-copying software. A list of the music CDs with the software and instructions on how to remove the software are available on the SONY BMG website.

The settlement specifically prohibits SONY BMG from using XCP or MediaMax software in the future, and will limit the ways in which SONY BMG may use anti-copying software. If it does choose to use Digital Rights Management software in the future, SONY BMG must inform consumers about it.

SONY BMG also agreed to pay $4.25 million to Idaho and 39 other states for costs and fees. Idaho’s share of the settlement payment is approximately $300,000.

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