A software patch released by Sony BMG Music Entertainment in response to an uproar over its XCP CD copy protection software may cause some computers to crash.
On Friday, Winternals Software chief software architect Mark Russinovich published further research into Sony's XCP copy protection software that discusses the problem and raises new privacy concerns.
Russinovich said that a design flaw in Sony's patch theoretically could cause a computer to crash as the software was installed. Though the risk of such an occurrence was small, Russinovich said that the problem was a further mark against Sony's reputation: "It's obvious that whoever's written this doesn't have all that much experience in writing drivers for Windows," he said in an interview Friday.
Sony released the patch on Wednesday in response to complaints from computer enthusiasts that XCP (Extended Copy Protection) used methods commonly associated with spyware and viruses to make itself nearly impossible to detect or remove from a PC. The patch makes XCP visible to system tools and antivirus products.
Russinovich also published further research showing that the XCP software appears to communicate with Sony's website, something that had not previously been disclosed.
The client appears to connect with Sony's servers looking for updates to lyrics or album art, but the way the software operates raises some privacy concerns, Russinovich said: "I doubt Sony is doing anything with the data, but with this type of connection their servers could record each time a copy-protected CD is played and the IP address of the computer playing it," he wrote.
Sony is not using the software to gather information on its users, said company spokesman John McKay: "No information ever gets gathered, that's for sure," he said.