Sony BGM is backing down.
The consumer and tech industry backlash against the company's use of spyware technology to embed its digital rights management code on customers' computers caused the company to stop using that particular technique (read more about its other techniques).
Jim Horton feels sympathy for the public relations team at Sony: "This is an amazingly difficult PR problem because music listeners do not seem to have a moral sense about borrowing music they want to hear."
I guess you could phrase the challenge that way. Or you could say that Sony, like the other music industry dinosaurs, has spent almost a decade fighting against their customers' stated preference for acquiring and playing music: in digital format, for use in whatever manner is convenient to the customer. Instead of embracing Napster and other music sharing sites, the music industry dug in its heels and opposed innovation. By doing so, they've yielded the market to free downloaders, until Apple finally stepped in with its iTunes store.
Marketing guy Seth Godin told an American conference of music industry types that they needed to rethink what business they're in and get out of their tunnel vision mindset.
Industry commentator Bob Lefsetz, who wrote about Godin's speech, was talking about the problems with copy protected CDs in September, before the latest Sony dust-up.
Anyone who thinks Sony has solved its problems is naive. There is a generation of music fans who have been ignored and accused of theft by the big music companies. For that generation, and others who agree with them, the opportunity to make the music companies suffer is irresistible.
The Boycott Sony Blog won't disappear now that one of Sony's techniques has backfired.
If the music industry had talked to young people instead of their lawyers when music downloading first got started, I wonder how many billions of dollars in business could have been done online in the last few years? The sale of high quality online content, with value-added features for paying customers, could have given the industry a real boost when it was badly neeed.