Corporate Copyright Scofflaws 0012 – Sony Corporation

The largest copyright pirates are the large corporations, particularly in the content distribution business. Yes, those companies who scream the loudest that their customers are ‘pirating’ movies, songs, books, etc. In this series, we are going to look at cases where these companies have engaged in large scale copyright infringement, or in other ways have been ripping off artists.

In all cases I will be working with published information. It is possible that this information may not be up to date, or may not accurately reflect the current status of the situation. If I am supplied documentary evidence which shows a different status, I will publish an update. In cases where a lawsuit ensued, and the settlement was sealed, I will not update the published information, unless I am provided with:

1) A copy of the settlement
2) Permission to publish the settlement

While I realize this may cause problems for one or more of the parties involved, I believe in only publishing things I can reference, so that those who read this have an evidence trail to follow.

Note that the above text will appear in every article, if you’ve read it once, feel free to skip down to the divider.


On January 30th Matthew Garrett posted an article titled The ongoing fight against GPL enforcement. In it he mentions that a Sony employee is trying to start a project, which would allow any company which needs Busybox functionality, that uses Free Software, and doesn’t like living up to its obligations under the GNU General Public License, to be able to avoid doing so.

Now it’s is really curious that a Sony employee is involved, considering Sony’s record. This is the same company that:

  1. Produced a music disc that root kited users’ computers if they ran Microsoft Windows.
  2. Sued a customer for restoring functionality to the Playstation 3 console that Sony had removed.
  3. Has been suing customers for music file sharing for years.

The Sony employee in question swears he is doing this on his own time, and that he hasn’t discussed it with his bosses. I’m not naming him. He doesn’t need to get dumped on. For all I know, he might even be telling the truth. It doesn’t matter.

The point is that there are two sets of rules.

One set of rules for Joe Public.

One set of rules for the Corporate World.

If a company says, well, sorry, we used to use Busybox, but we don’t anymore. We just don’t like having to release source code, even though under the GPL the license for the project that we’ve chosen to use, we have a responsibility to do so. We know that Copyright Law backs them up on this, but we don’t like it, it is just too much work. They know they’ll get away with it, because it is just too much trouble to chase into court, now that the infringement has stopped.

But if a consumer downloads one music track, or they want to mod their purchased and paid for game console to run Linux or another operating system, the corporations send in the lawyers. Even if the consumer promises never to do it again. Or can’t do it again, because he or she is dead.

Hypocrisy anyone?


Wayne Borean

Saturday February 4, 2012


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