Friday, February 22, 2013

Sony breaks copyright law

The company known collectively as Sony (its a multinational conglomerate) may not be happy soon. It depends upon whether KDE (K Desktop Environment) and the Oxygen theme creators decide to sue Sony for breaking copyright law. Based off of the original source, it is also in the UEFI firmware that Sony has on (new) laptops.

Sony, by the way, is the company that put rootkits on their music CD's which would then install themselves on the vict... customer's computer. This was supposed to prevent piracy, which is against the law, by maliciously installing software on their customer's computers which is also against the law.

In this reddit thread, someone posted a link to a wikipedia page (AFAIK, you cann't change the date that something was uploaded), and posted a link to an image on Sony's site that had the KDE icon and the icon from the wikipedia page.

I, personally, am all for Sony getting sued for millions of dollars here (to them, a defense of "I did not download your copyrighted materials" is not an excuse -- you had them and you illegally used them).

The icon that started it all off (the KDE icon) is dual licensed under the LGPLv3 and the CC BY-SA licenses. Both of them require that the derivative work remain under the license (Sony didn't do that) and give attribution to the author. Neither the LGPLv3 nor the CC BY-SA licenses were to be found on their website, and their Terms Of Service (TOS) do not indicate either license and do aim to prevent others from copying that image (or any part of the website).

The other (potentially) violated work was licensed under the GPLv2, which, depending upon where Sony has used it, put Sony in a world of hurt. If it is in the UEFI firmware, then the UEFI firmware source MUST be released in order to comply with the license (or Sony could face significant damages). If it is used on a website, then the website must be distributed under the GPLv2. The GPL license does not permit proprietary software to use GPL software (no linking, no using the sources, etc.) GPL software cannot be used in LGPL software, but LGPL software can be used in GPL software (I think).

By the way, the offending icons can be found on Sony's build-your-own VAIO T Series page (you can follow a few links from here, I'm not posting a link just in case the TOS of their website is actually enforceable).

Sony can go die, as far as I am concerned -- yes, some hardware choices will be lost, but they really treat their customers poorly, and the pirates just laugh at them.

Again, my position on DRM and locking consumers out of their own devices is that both should be illegal (the device was paid for, not stolen, not rented, paid). Sony has done both. Therefore, I am happy to see Sony go down in flames. I feel sorry for the poor people working in their factories, but f*** the upper management. Unfortunately, it is likely that the people working in the factories will get the s*** end of the stick.

Someone else in the reddit thread also noted that many companies subcontract their web pages, and the contractor owns that web page (all legal oopsies, etc). But Sony is a multinational company that sells technology. They almost certainly have a department somewhere that does the web-design for them.

Mayhap Sony will reflect what could have happened if the SOPA/PIPA bills had passed...

Methinks that they would not be happy.