(May 23, 2006)—Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott continues to pursue a spyware suit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment that a spokesman said Tuesday is stronger than the class action suits in which a settlement was reached that means free music downloads or cash for millions of consumers who bought CDs with flawed anti-piracy software.
A federal judge in New York gave final approval to a settlement in the unrelated class action suit Monday.
It was proposed in January.
As many as 20 million CDs with the flawed software were sold, attorneys said.
Abbott sued the company in November under the state’s new spyware law, alleging that illegal spyware was imbedded in certain CDs.
In late December, Abbott invoked the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, alleging the company’s MediaMax technology for copy protection violates Texas’ spyware and deceptive trade practices law.
Abbott says consumers who use the CDs are offered a license agreement, but files are secretly installed on their computers even if they reject the agreement.
“We keep discovering additional methods Sony used to deceive Texas consumers who thought they were simply buying music,” Abbott said.
“These CDs open the door for malicious hackers to target consumers’ computers. Hackers may be using the Sony files to install viruses, malware or even commit identity theft,” Abbott said.
Texas’ original suit alleges the company illegally installed spyware on millions of music CDs that Abbott says can make computers “vulnerable to computer viruses and other forms of attack.”
Abbott said the spyware installs files onto the computers on which the CDs are played.
"Sony has engaged in a technological version of cloak and dagger deceit against consumers by hiding secret files on their computers," Abbott said.
"Consumers who purchased a Sony CD thought they were buying music. Instead, they received spyware that can damage a computer, subject it to viruses and expose the consumer to possible identity crime,” he said.
Sony said last fall on its Web site that it had recalled all the affected CDs, but Abbott said investigators were able to buy a number of titles at retail stores in Austin in November.
On Nov. 18, Sony announced it had initiated the mail-in program to allow consumers to exchange CDs containing XCP software for replacements without XCP.