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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

Oh No, Sony
Spyware bugs people

1. Deluge

Music buyers got hosed this week by Sony BMG.

The joint venture of Japan's Sony (SNE) and Germany's Bertelsmann soaked its loyal customers by sneaking some anticopying software onto music compact discs.

The software was aimed at bolstering sales by preventing CD-copying on Windows-based personal computers, but it didn't end up working quite that way. Rather than protecting the precious intellectual property of Celine Dion , the so-called Extended Copy Protection program ended up spurring an anti-Sony rebellion.

Sony BMG came under fire from all sides after alert techies revealed that the software could expose computers to virus attacks. Irate CD buyers called for a boycott. Media reports raised the specter of spyware infestation. Computer security outfits, led by Microsoft (MSFT), rushed to neutralize the threat.

Sony BMG rallied, distributing a patch that fixed the virus vulnerability. It also discontinued its use of the software and recalled the discs. "We stand by content protection technology as an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists," the company said in a statement on its Web site. Even so, "we deeply regret any possible inconvenience this may cause."

On the plus side, the fiasco might give embattled Sony BMG chief Andrew Lack the inside track on a plush new office in Redmond, Wash. After all, how often does Microsoft come out of a software mishap looking this good?

Dumb-o-Meter score: 91. Sony BMG doesn't mind playing the heavy, that's for sure.

To view Colin Barr's humorous video take on Sony's spyware, click here .

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