Sayonara, Sleazy SonyPosted: November 21, 2005
There has been quite a ruckus about Sony's downright idiotic decision to install software that modifies Windows at the deepest level, hides itself, and secretly spies on your computer. It does this with something called a rootkit, examples of which have names like T0rn, FU Rootkit, and my favorite, SuckIT. Even more bizarre – it makes use, illegally, of Open Source software to do some of its dirty work. This is ironic for two reasons – first, the Open Source software model is designed to foster sharing and cooperation, and second, that this particular software has been written by “DVD Jon“, famous for hacking DVD encryption. Whew.
I'm not particularly surprised that the music industry is taking the most heavy-handed, brute force approach to the problem of file sharing, despite the fact that there are several creative alternatives to the problem. iTunes, for example, has done incredibly well, even its customers can easily get their hands on the exactly same merch for free.
The problem is that the whole business model is now flawed. The music industry has three parts – production, marketing, and distribution. Production is everything related to creating the album. Marketing is done by the labels, who take a hefty percentage for their efforts. Distribution is done by a handful of companies, including Sony, and involves getting the physical CD's into retail stores. They take about 50% of CD profits for this service/racket. File sharing (legal and otherwise) is a direct threat to the distribution model, since the physical CD's are rapidly becoming obsolete. iTunes gives me the music without the crap or the guilt. In fact, the only thing artists need these days is a studio to get their music made, and a marketing company to get their music heard. And if they're concert-friendly, they could even distribute recorded stuff for free, and make their money doing shows (which many artists do anyway – they can get a lot more from a tour than from CD's).
So it's no wonder Sony Music is freaking out. The joke is that moves like this only serve to push customers away from physical media – why should I put this malware-ridden crap in my pristine PC? As I said, I'm not surprised, but I'm not particularly worried. This is an act of a desperate company in its death throes. Boo-yah!
p.s. I should note that I have a good friend who works for Sony Music… sorry, dude :-/