It’s not quite spyware, but it could be used to hide it. And Sony seems to be putting it on its CDs. Rootkits hide files from unsuspecting (meaning non-technical) users. Creators of malware use rootkits to hide files that ultimately damage PCs.
Sony is using the software as part of its DRM implementation on its CD music distributions. The fact that DRM server processes has been discovered on Windows machines that have been exposed to these CDs, after the CDs are removed, is downright heinous. Technically speaking, such implementations could be used to hide software that tracks everything you listen to on your computer.
Generic, non-computer CD players are safe, but I’d be paying careful attention to my music labels from now on.
Of course, Mike over at Techdirt cuts to the “root” of the issue much better than I do (pun completely and utterly intended).