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Sony Copy Protection Woes Linger for Some Users

The copy protection program that Sony put on CDs last year is still posing a threat to computer users running certain versions of AOL or PestPatrol antivirus software.

The much-maligned copy protection program that Sony BMG Music Entertainment put on CDs last year is still posing a threat to computer users running certain versions of AOL or PestPatrol antivirus software.

The glitch may cause a computer's CD-ROM drive to be disabled, according to the Texas attorney general's office, which said Wednesday that the problem was discovered by officials who have been testing the XCP copy-protection technology as part of the state's lawsuit against Sony BMG.

State investigators found that if a CD with XCP technology is loaded on a computer running AOL's "Safety and Security Center" software, the program's antispyware feature will attempt to delete the XCP components, but often while also disabling the CD-ROM's configuration in the PC's operating system.

The same glitch surfaced on computers running CA Inc.'s PestPatrol separately from AOL, the state said.

"We believe there are many consumers out there who might have had this happen to them, but they weren't able to make the connection between running certain versions of AOL or the standalone virus software and having in some previous point in time entered CDs with XCP files into that same PC," said Paco Felici, a spokesman for Attorney General Greg Abbott.

CA, formerly known as Computer Associates, and AOL were informed of the glitch last month and have made a software patch available that fixes it.

"We don't believe this issue currently affects or has affected a significant number of users," said Andrew Weinstein, an AOL spokesman.

In a statement, Sony BMG said it worked with AOL and CA to resolve the issues with their software and noted it has made a software patch and uninstaller program for XCP available on its Web site.

Texas' lawsuit against the record company claims the XCP software that prevents unauthorized copying of music violated antispyware and consumer protection laws because it monitored users' activities without their knowledge. Several class-action lawsuits against Sony BMG have been settled.