Sony BMG's controversial XCP CD copy protection software hasn't done the company's image any favours, with litigation in Italy.

On Friday, a group based in Milan called the ALCEI-EFI (Association for Freedom in Electronic Interactive Communications - Electronic Frontiers Italy) filed a complaint about Sony's software with the head of Italy's cyber-crime investigation unit.

Security vendor Computer Associates has also begun classifying Sony's software as spyware and its software will begin searching for and removing XCP later this week.

The Italian complaint alleges that XCP violates a number of Italy's computer security laws by causing damage to users' systems and by acting in the same way as malicious software, according to Andrea Monti, chair of the ALCEI-EFI. "What Sony did qualifies as a criminal offence under Italian law," he wrote.

Should police decide a crime has been committed, prosecutors will begin criminal proceedings against Sony, Monti said.

Sony declined to comment on the story.

XCP, used on about 20 of the company's music titles, according to Sony, prohibits Windows users from making more than three copies of any XCP-protected CD.

Within the next seven days, ALCEI-EFI also plans to ask the European Union to investigate the matter, Monti said. "The irony of the case is that pressure from industry lobbies has led to weird legislation in Italy that treats copying as a criminal offence," he said. "By spreading a virus-like anticopy device (entertainment companies such as Sony) become the criminals under another, more reasonable, law."

Sony's has been slammed in the past week, since it was first revealed that the software uses many of the same tricks as spyware and viruses to disguise its existence.