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Sony BMG settles suits over spyware CDs

Sony BMG has settled a series of class action lawsuits stemming from the release of controversial CDs that planted spyware on the personal computers of its customers.

The software, originally intended to prevent copying of the CDs, left customers’ computers vulnerable to viruses and other attacks. The company ended up offering free music downloads and agreed to stop making CDs with the offending XCP or MediaMax software. It also agreed to bring in an independent auditor to confirm to customers it has not and will not use their personal data.

Sony BMG produced 4.7 million CDs containing the software, of which nearly three million were sold. It will pay an undisclosed amount for the recall of affected discs, and will also bear the cost of compensating members of the class action suits.

As part of the settlement, customers who bought any of the 52 titles with XCP software will receive replacement copies and the choice of two compensation packages: a cash payment of $7.50 and one free album download; or three free album downloads. Users of the MediaMax software will receive a free download.

Sony BMG is still facing a separate lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general.

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