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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York state has sued the maker of McAfee antivirus software alleging it is restricting free speech by barring customers from publishing product reviews without its consent, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced Thursday.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Network Associates Inc., placed restrictions on software diskettes and on its Web site, from which users download software, that explicitly prohibit customers from criticizing products, Spitzer said.

Such restrictions, known as restrictive covenants, are illegal because they harm the public by censoring discussion of a product's flaws and defects, Spitzer contended.

In one instance, Network Associates demanded a retraction of an unfavorable review published in the online and print magazine Network World, citing a clause on its Web site that prohibits product reviews without permission, the lawsuit alleged.

The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, seeks to prevent enforcement of any clause restricting product reviews of the company's software, as well as costs and penalties for the company's conduct.

A Network Associates spokesman said the company had not seen the suit and had no immediate comment.