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Monday, November 14 12:00 AM ET

New Sony Digital Camera Installs Rootkit to Stop Photo Sharing

By Brian Briggs

Los Angeles, CA - Many consumers are complaining about Sony's new Cybershot DSCP515 camera that installs digital rights management (DRM) software on the person's computer so they are unable to share their digital pictures with anyone.

A Sony representative said it was part of its "increased vigilance in combating copyright and trademark infringement."

"This Cookie Monster costume is not properly licensed for photo sharing by the Children's Television Workshop. Thank goodness for Sony DRM."

"People are sharing pictures all over the Internet without regard to copyright and trademarks. Just the other day I saw a Halloween photo of a kid dressed up like Yoda. Don't they know that Yoda's image is wholly owned by Lucasarts? That behavior needs to be stopped," said Sony Vice president of Copyright Protection Clay Wilkerson.

The DRM is similar to the one which Sony recently came under fire for on its music CDs. That software installed rootkits on consumer's computers making them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

"Picture sharing flies under the radar when it comes to piracy," said Wilkerson. "People know about the dangers of music and movie piracy, but not about the dangers of sharing personal photos. What happens if a person takes a picture of Mariah Carey's latest CD? Think of the children."

The system which also makes it difficult to print out pictures has prompted complaints from consumers. "I tried to send a picture of my daughter to her Uncle Tim, but this window popped up saying it was blocked. I decided to print it out and mail it to him. There was a 14-page license agreement that printed out first that I had to fill out and fax to Sony so they could send me an authorization code to print out the picture."

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Wilkerson doesn't think the lack of photo sharing capabilities will hurt the sales of their digital cameras. "We've hidden the protection so the consumers won't notice it when they buy it, and our draconian return policy will prevent any returns. Problem solved."

Hackers have already cracked the Sony DRM system by buying another digital camera and using it to take pictures of their pictures once they are displayed on their computer screen. "It's a hassle," said one hacker who wished to remain anonymous, "but at least you haven't wasted the money you spent on the Sony camera."

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