MediaMax copy protection does things behind your back!

November 29th, 2005

The music industry get up to more tricks straight out of the virus writers' handbook!

Alex Halderman at Freedom to Tinker describes how the MediaMax copy protection software activates even if the user has declined the EULA (End User License Agreement).

In the comments to our last MediaMax story, reader free980211 pointed out that the driver sometimes becomes permanently activated if the same protected CD is used more than once, even if the user never agrees to the EULA. This wasn’t apparent from my earlier tests because they were conducted under tightly controlled conditions, with each trial beginning from a fresh Windows installation and involving only carefully scripted operations. I’ve performed further tests and can now confirm that MediaMax is permanently activated in several common situations in spite of explicitly withheld consent.

The circumstances under which the MediaMax driver is activated are:

In the following scenarios the driver may become permanently activated even if you always decline the agreement:

  • You insert a CD-3 album, then later insert an MM-5 album
  • You insert an MM-5 album, then later insert a CD-3 album
  • You insert an MM-5 album, reboot, then later insert the same album or another MM-5 album

These steps don’t have to take place all at once. They can happen over a period of weeks or months.

Now, I wonder, is this yet another example of shoddy programming or something more sinister?  Either way, this raises a whole new set of issues - Who's computer is it?  How much system alteration is acceptable in order to be able to use a product that you've bought and paid for?  Can application modify the PC even if the user has not accepted the EULA?

There are some fresh questions that I'd like Sony to answer for us if possible, although I expect little more than weasel words.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2005 at 00:29 and is filed under PC Doctor's Useful Links, Stay Secure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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