This is how Sony should have reacted in the first place. Or, rather, they should never have actually shipped audio CDs with copy protection software, but one they did, they might have avoided the PR shitstorm they now face if they had come out with this statement right away:
November 16, 2005
To Our Valued Customers:
You may be aware of the recent attention given to the XCP content protection software included on some SONY BMG CDs. This software was provided to us by a third-party vendor, First4Internet. Discussion has centered on security concerns raised about the use of CDs containing this software.
We share the concerns of consumers regarding these discs, and we are instituting a program that will allow consumers to exchange any CD with XCP software for the same CD without copy protection. We also have asked our retail partners to remove all unsold CDs with XCP software from their store shelves and inventory. We will make further details of this program available shortly.
I'm hoping the fallout from this will sour the industry on CD copy-protection schemes for the foreseeable future.
Well, since then, the Secret Society blog has obtained insider information from a reliable anonymous source close to the project. Here's what we have learned:
1) Internet speculation about Vince Wilburn, Miles's nephew, former drummer (1985-87) and currently the driving force behind the Miles Davis estate, is correct -- Vince is single-handedly responsible for holding up the release of this set.
2) The dispute has nothing to do with the music. It has to do with Vince's personal beef with the person who did some of the artwork for this set -- someone who also happened to be in Miles's band at the same time as Vince.
3) Sony do not officially require the approval of the estate to release the set, but they are trying to maintain good relations with the estate, so they are voluntarily suspending the release of the box until this dispute can be resolved. The estate receives generous financial compensation (over and above royalties) whenever one of these box sets are released.
So there you have it. What does this mean for the eventual release of the Cellar Door box? No idea. But would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to. Comment away.
UPDATE (Nov 16): Okay, fine, don't comment, then. See if I care. But I return bearing good news -- the Cellar Door set has a release date -- December 27. Of course, it's had release dates before -- hopefully this one sticks.
UPDATE AGAIN (Nov 17): Or is it December 17? So confusing.
There's been quite the furor over Sony's copy-protected audio CDs that install invisible rootkit software that, in a brilliant bit of corporate wisdom, not only bitch-slaps the customers who actually bought Sony CDs by crippling their ability to legally use the music they paid for -- like, for instance, copying the tracks to their iPod -- it also opens a back door for trojan horses and other malware to infect your computer in ways undetectable to virus-protection software. And, despite Sony's claims that this is only a theoretical vulnerability, it took roughly 30 seconds for virus writers to begin circulating malware that specifically targets the Sony-created security hole. And, as an extra-special bonus, attempts to uninstall this copy-protection software from hell usually rendered the user's CD-ROM drive inoperable.
[These "features" are, thankfully, Windows-only (for now) --disturbingly, the Sony CDs in question do contain a hidden Mac OS X installer, but it doesn't self-install and unlike the Windows version, is not required to play or rip the CD on your Mac.]
As I have said before, it's like Sony is begging you to download the tracks illegally. I mean, who the hell would pay to subject themselves to this kind of abuse?
However, in a bit of good news, Sony has announced that they are abandoning this insane customer-raping scheme (no doubt in favor of some yet-to-be-determined fresh new insane customer-raping scheme). And of course, this announcement doesn't necessarily mean that Sony will be releasing DRM-free versions of the affected CDs, so if you want a copy of the new editions of Silver's Blue or Jeru or the latest Bad Plus record that won't affix a virtual "infect me" sign to your hard drive, you will be entirely justified in pursuing "other options."