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Sony compensation a "trifle"

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ony BMG Music Entertainment has reached a tentative settlement to end
lawsuits that accused the music label of leaving CD buyers vulnerable
to attack from hackers and malicious software, officials said.

Groups involved in the lawsuits said late Thursday that the proposed
settlement with Sony BMG, one of the world's biggest music companies,
would be heard by a New York federal judge around January 6.

"We hope that other record labels will learn from Sony's hard
experience and focus more on the carrot of quality music and less on
the stick of copy protection," said the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF), one of the groups that sued Sony BMG.

Another lawsuit had been filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott,
alleging that Sony BMG violated that state's anti-spyware law with its
XCP anti-piracy program, which installed hidden files when the CDs
were inserted into a PC.

The EFF suit sought to compel Sony BMG to "repair the damage" to
computers caused by two separate anti-piracy programs, First4Internet
XCP and SunnComm MediaMax, which it said were installed on more than
24 million music CDs.

Experts say that when one of the CDs is inserted into a PC, the
copy-protection software can modify computer settings and expose
computers to various strains of malicious programs.

After a storm of protests, the music company said it was ending the
use of the software provided by a third-party vendor and allowing
consumers who purchased CDs to exchange them for similar items without
the program.

Under the settlement filed with the court, Sony BMG will also allow
customers to choose from two compensation packages.

One offers a cash payment of 7.50 dollars and a download of an
additional album from an online list of more than 200 titles. The
other would offer three album downloads.

Copyright 2005 AFP
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