Sony Rootkit Fiasco Continues in Canada

MediaMax DRM, also known as the Sony Rookit, has proven to be one fiasco with lasting effects. In Canada, there was the legal action followed by more legal action almost exactly one month later.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Late last month, there was a report that Sony was going to settle with Canadians in a similar style to that of the American settlement, pending court approval. Think the Sony Rootkit fiasco was finally laid to rest? Think again.

Though the news that Sony was proceeding with a settlement similar to the one in the United States seemed to put the situation on track to recovery, advocates started questioning the settlement for being not sufficient enough.

The questions started circulating when a mysterious “Exhibit C” appeared – first in rumour, then in fact (PDF – hosted by Michael Geist) Michael Geist comments, “The affidavit seeks to explain why Sony BMG Canada believes it is appropriate to grant Canadian consumers fewer rights than their U.S. counterparts. While there is the suggestion that Canadians would benefit indirectly from a U.S. injunction, the heart of the argument revolves around a series of copyright-related arguments that are utterly without merit.”

It appears as though Michael Geist wasn’t alone when it came to wanting to get this “Exhibit C” document. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) was looking high and low for the exhibit before Michael Geist posted it. After the EFF obtained a copy, they comment, “Exhibit C is not an explanation but a rationalization, and an unconvincing one at that. Canadian computers are as vulnerable to viruses as American computers — there’s no reason to give them less protection.”

Howard Knopf, the defence lawyer during the key court case that involved CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) and several infamous John Doe’s, made his own comments on the matter: “The affidavit contains some ludicrous arguments and statements that are clearly intended to pander to Canadian lawmakers who SONY hopes will deliver DMCA North to Canada in short order, and at the same time to get approval from a Canadian court of a settlement that is much worse even than the highly criticized US settlement.”

Now words became action in Canada. CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic) filed a formal objection (PDF – hosted by EFF) which states, ”

I, David A. Fewer, Class Member and CIPPIC Legal Counsel, object to the proposed class settlement for the reasons set forth in my attached sworn affidavit, as well as those set forth in the attached sworn affidavit of Cindy Cohn.

I will appear at the Final Settlement Approval Hearings in Toronto, Ontario on September 21, 2006

The EFF made a support affidavit (PDF) and also posted the attachments from David Fewer’s objection (found here: Exhibit 1 (PDF), exhibit 2 (PDF), exhibit 3 (PDF) – hosted by EFF)

Exhibit 1 shows a court document from the US version of the settlement. Exhibit 2 shows an open letter from the EFF to Sony. Exhibit 3 shows a letter from Jeffrey P. Cunard talking about moves taken by Sony in the US.

While very few are particularly happy with Sony over this fiasco, it seems something is being done with the concerns raised by critics in the Canadian version of the Sony settlement.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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