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Lawsuits, banning threats, denials surround Spore DRM fiasco

According to documents obtained by the Courthouse News Service, Electronic Arts is facing a class action lawsuit due to the implementation of SecuROM DRM software in the recently released evolution game Spore. The lawsuit was filed Monday with the Northern California District Court and the plaintiff is Melissa Thomas and "all others similarly situated". Thomas is represented by Alan Himmelfarb and Scott A. Kamber of Vernon, California, and New York.

The suit claims, “Consumers are not warned about the program, which is installed without notice and cannot be uninstalled, even if they uninstall Spore”.  The lawsuit accuses Electronic Arts of deliberately hiding the fact that Spore uses SecuROM and claims the DRM software prevents the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations. The suit also claims that SecuROM takes over a portion of a PC's processing resources "to transmit information back to EA." The lawsuit is seeking an award for all plaintiffs the $49.99 purchase price plus damages. The details of the lawsuit are available in PDF format.

In addition to the lawsuit, there is more bad press for EA as Shacknews is reporting a poster on The Official Spore Forum was threatened with banning after asking about the DRM situation on the board. They were asked to take any further DRM SecuROM conversations to another forum and any further attempts to discuss the topic may result in a banning so severe the poster may be forced to buy a new copy to play Spore. The forum thread in question can be accessed here. In order to post on the forum, consumers must sign in with the Spore account tied to their game.

The comments appear to be the result of a frustrated forum moderator rather than official Electronic Arts policy as other forum moderators quickly stepped in claiming the inflammatory comments were the result of a miscommunication. They also stated on another forum thread "It is okay to discuss issues on this forum as long as it's done in a respectful manner and there are no personal attacks. This includes the DRM and other controversial issues.

In a message sent to Kotaku, Electronic Arts responded to the incident stating "These comments are absolutely not true or in-line with EA’s moderation policy. They were made by an over-zealous community volunteer who does not work for EA."

Spore has received large amounts of criticism for the way its DRM was implemented. The backlash has caused Electronic Arts to backtrack on some of their decisions with regards to the DRM implemented in Spore. The class action lawsuit and the forum incident are more additions to the public relations disaster that the Spore DRM fiasco has become.



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Thinking of buying
By Narcofis on 9/25/2008 10:40:07 AM , Rating: 3
I was thinking on buying this game but with all the DRM controversy, I'm going to skip this one.

They should at least forewarned the buyer about the DRM and it is definitely bad that when you removed the game the DRM is not removed which in my book means Spyware or in this case we call it a Trojan (Doesn't really matter if it's true or not). Which is totally unacceptable.

When we don't know who made it we call it a Virus but when there's a big name behind it we call it DRM.

Funny how things works.




RE: Thinking of buying
By Narcofis on 9/25/2008 10:44:50 AM , Rating: 2
After reading my post the I made a little mistake. The part
where I say (Doesnt really matter if it's true or not) was targeted at when you removed the game, the DRM stays on.

They should really add an edit post button or something.
Unless there is one I don't know about!


RE: Thinking of buying
By codeThug on 9/25/2008 11:41:36 AM , Rating: 2
Even the name of it, "spore" gives me the creeps. It sounds like an Andromeda Strain style fungal infection.


RE: Thinking of buying
By afkrotch on 9/25/2008 12:14:40 PM , Rating: 1
Please tell me exactly why you'll skip it? Or the many many other games that use SecuRom.

All it does is sit there, make sure you own the game, then fire it up. It's not made to be malicious, like a trojan/spyware/etc. It's not sending my info back to EA, it's not opening a backdoor on my computer so that other softwares are installed on my machine, etc.

But hey, how many games have you installed with SecuRom? How many games have you actually purchased legally? If you've bought multiple games within the past couple years, odds are pretty high that SecuRom is probably already on your machine.


RE: Thinking of buying
By DragonReach on 9/25/2008 3:59:08 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah that is false. Enable bitlocker on vista if you have a version that supports it, then try to start up your game.

Run procmon to try to resolve a different issue and then try to play your game.

People have also had issues where games would not start if they had virtual cd/dvd programs loaded.

All related to SecuROM.

Since my laptop is a business system I can't play games that use these intrusive DRM schemes because they bypass established APIs to access storage. With bitlocker enabled trying to run NWN2 will hang the box completely.

Given the behavior of the software I have no problem calling SecuROM malware, it installs silently, provides no easy method for removal and stays long after the programs that installed it are removed. I have to take the same steps to remove it as I do to remove a virus or trojan, so it fits in the same category. The only real difference is they managed to get me to pay them for this garbage.


RE: Thinking of buying
By afkrotch on 9/26/2008 10:57:35 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yeah that is false. Enable bitlocker on vista if you have a version that supports it, then try to start up your game.

Run procmon to try to resolve a different issue and then try to play your game.


Flaws of SecuRom, which will probably get fixed in later versions. Much like flaws of any other software program out there.

quote:
People have also had issues where games would not start if they had virtual cd/dvd programs loaded.


The program loaded is no problem. Just the virtual drive itself. Just disable that drive and it works.

quote:
Since my laptop is a business system I can't play games that use these intrusive DRM schemes because they bypass established APIs to access storage. With bitlocker enabled trying to run NWN2 will hang the box completely.


WTF business lets ppl play games on their laptops, let alone install them?

quote:
Given the behavior of the software I have no problem calling SecuROM malware


Malware...malicious software. SecuRom isn't made to be malicious and having it have bugs doesn't make it fall under malware.

Also almost every program leaves behind traces of itself, incase you install it again. Shoot, I have to reload Windows just to get rid of ATI catalyst drivers, as it's simply easier to do than go through the location of every piece of the driver and clean out the registry.


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