It was six years ago this month that a very ugly truth emerged, putting in a Sony label CD might harm your computer. Hidden in the innocuous CD was some Sony bought and paid for software that would bury itself so deep in your computer that it would avoid detection by even the best antivirus software. It was called a RootKit. It’s purpose was simple, protect the IP rights of Sony. With this devil installed, they could make sure that only the original owner of the CD could play it.

Unfortunately Sony forgot to mention this minor issue by actually asking consumers if this was OK.

A fire storm erupted. Sony pointed the blame at the folks that wrote the software. The software folks kept quiet.

The problem erupted in the tech press, and it was not long before even the Main Stream Media was forced to climb on board. Of course the Main Stream Media were not very keen to engage on the subject. Sony were big advertisers, to trash them would represent a loss of advertising dollars.

As the story unfolded it became clear that Sony-BMG had elicited the help of two companies, one based in England First4internet, and one based in Phoenix, AZ, SunnComm. In a day late and a dollar short move Sony-BMG in a desperate PR situation sued both companies. Here is an article.

In a moment of ‘post thanksgiving’ boredom I decided to revisit the story. It had a bad smell then, and it does not seem to have improved any now. A mega corporation like Sony-BMG doesn’t fart without the legal eagles approving it. So where were the legal guys when the company decided to use First4internet and Sunncomm?

So here we are six years later. Clearly Sony has survived, as I recall they settled the entire consumer outrage by giving everyone affected the equivalent of a coupon for a free Big Mac and Fries. But what happened to First4intenet and Sunncomm?

First4internet had a pretty interesting web site back in 2005, there is a snapshot. My thanks to wayback.org.

The website of today is a slightly different beast.

This hardly looks like anything other than a boring, pointless, useless use of bandwidth. No Rootkits, so I suppose that is a good thing. A little googing reveals that First4internet are not dead. Is it possible that they have reinvented themselves? Might they be now known as Fortium?

Patronus DVD video anti rip copy protection solution helps content owners sell more discs by reliably preventing unauthorized copying from common ripping programs without affecting playback. Patronus is widely used by videographers and the major film studios for protecting screener DVDs.

Patronus introduces copy control encapsulation in areas of the disc not read by DVD players during playback. Complying with the DVD standard, the original content is not modified and play-back quality remains unaffected. Patronus effectively controls access to the content by common ripping programs and provides effective, speed bump protection from unauthorised copying.

Complex content – including menus, special features, extras and even dual layers – are protected by the passive technology of Patronus, which ensures no changes are made to the original video files during analysis. Patronus provides an ideal solution for consumer ‘download-to-own’ and in-store ‘on demand’ manufacturing.

So what happened to our good friends in Phoenix?

Sunncomm also have an interesting story. While not a fan of Wikipedia, I do agree with this article.

It can be challenging to keep up with the ever revolving door but it appears that Sunncomm morphed into the Altitude Organic Corporation.  Well hell, if you can’t make a buck at computer viruses, why not grow Marijuana? Of course DRM is never far from their thoughts. I am sure that each joint is digitally signed!

More interesting than dope, these dopes are still looking for the ‘next big one’.

Phoenix, Nov 17, 2011 (eTeligis.com via COMTEX) PHOENIX, Nov. 17, 2011 — Altitude Organic Corporation (ERBB:OTC:Pink), a leading national, publicly-traded medical marijuana company, is pleased to report that its 8-year old division called Tranzbyte Corporation is completing the development of an extraordinary process for placing instruction and entertainment content onto USB flash drives. The product is called FLASHAlbum(TM). The company’s new CEO, David Gwyther, feels that the product, once completed, could comprise a significant portion of Altitude Organix’s future near-term revenue. Mr. Gwyther comes to the company with significant connections here in the US and abroad – especially in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Hmm i will wait and see.

Simon Barrett

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