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Sony and Microsoft in dispute over copy protection software

Sony BMG Music Entertainment has temporarily suspended the manufacture of music CDs with antipiracy technology that can leave computers vulnerable to viruses. The company will stop making CDs with the XCP technology as a precautionary measure.

In a prepared statement, Sony said it intends to re-examine “all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use.”

Spurred by Sony’s announcement, Microsoft said it will update its Windows security tools to detect and remove part of the copy protection tools installed by the controversial CDs.

The antipiracy technology, which works only on Windows computers, prevents customers from making more than a few copies of the CD and prevents them from loading the CDs songs onto Apple Computer’s iPod portable music players. Some other music players, which recognize Microsoft’s proprietary music format, will still work.

The controversy between the two companies emerged after several security companies discovered that hackers had begun to create and send programs over the Internet that exploited the technology’s ability to avoid detection. Hackers discovered they can effectively render their programs invisible by using names for computer files similar to ones used by Sony.

Some leading antivirus companies immediately updated their protective software to detect Sony’s antipiracy program, disable it and prevent it from being reinstalled.

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