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SonyBMG offers the gift of song in spyware dispute

SonyBMG offers the gift of song in spyware dispute

SonyBMG, the world’s second-largest music company, has offered to make payments of millions of dollars to smooth over its botched attempt to install copyright protection software without computer owners’ permission.

The record company has offered to withdraw the disputed software and pay consumers who have been affected $7.50 (£4.36) and offer them the chance to download one free album. People not wanting to take the cash can download three free albums instead.

Scott Kamber, the New York lawyer who led the case against the music giant, said: “We have reached a settlement with all the parties. That settlement provides real value for money to the class [of people affected] in a timely manner.”

SonyBMG ran into trouble in November, when it emerged that the record company had inserted a copyright protection programme, called XCP, on to its CDs. The software — described by critics as “spyware” — covertly installed itself when music was played via a computer. Security experts said that it could open up computers to unexpected hacker attack.

It is not clear how many people were affected but albums by Neil Diamond, Celine Dion and Natasha Bedingfield were among those that were sold with XCP. SonyBMG has not confirmed how many were sold but on one estimate it could have been installed on 560,000 computers worldwide.

The settlement offer has to be formally approved by a judge in New York this Friday (January 6th) before it becomes effective.


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