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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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Isnt it funny that...
By Proteusza on 9/25/2008 10:57:37 AM , Rating: 2
Despite Vista's security minded focus, and all of its new features including UAC, it still allows software like SecuROM to work. I hope that Windows 7 makes it mandatory for anything installing additional drivers or anything that starts on startup to obtain user consent even in the middle of the installation. I mean, whats the difference between SecuROM and more malicious software? Both are stealth software that piggy backs on other software.

So, if I installed Spore, it should prompt me before the installation, then when it detects that Spore wants to install SecuROM, should prompt me for that too. Or just deny the installation altogether.

RE: Isnt it funny that...
By kamel5547 on 9/25/2008 11:08:38 AM , Rating: 2
You give your consent when you authorize the primary installer (assuming they even use two installers), if you had to consent to every change UAC would be even worse (As it stands I've deactivated it). As long as people want an easy install (i.e. one master installer rather than 20 different ones for each aspect of a program) then this really isn't feasible.

Personally the only issues I have with the DRM are:
1) the software does not remove at uninstallation (although this is understandable given that many games use the same DRM, if you removed it and had other games using it you would break those games).
2) No license return feature.

I actually like DRM for the one thing, I don't ahve to hunt down a nocd hack. Lets be honest DRM has been around for years and has progressively made it easier to deal with software if you are a legitimate consumer. I mean I don't have to hunt through a book with a colored piece of plastic to decode the third word of the 4th paragraph anymore... I kind of like that.

RE: Isnt it funny that...
By Master Kenobi on 9/25/2008 11:32:48 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, remember the original X-Wing that ran on Win 3.1/DOS/Win95? You had to open up the manual and look for the specific 3 character code on the bottom of the page designated to get it to load up? Yea, that was a real pain. I was glad when they removed it from the version released on CD later on.

RE: Isnt it funny that...
By The0ne on 9/25/2008 12:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
I remember the old RPG games with the crpyted wheels and stuff :D it was fun but frustrating when you can't find it to be able to play :D

RE: Isnt it funny that...
By Mojo the Monkey on 9/25/2008 2:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, Monkey Island... I miss you

RE: Isnt it funny that...
By sticks435 on 9/25/2008 1:38:09 PM , Rating: 2
That is because Securom takes over Ring 0(kernal) access, which bypasses UAC and all vista security measures.

RE: Isnt it funny that...
By BikeDude on 9/27/2008 7:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
Despite Vista's security minded focus, and all of its new features including UAC, it still allows software like SecuROM to work.

I suspect Vista ships many of these DRMs as part of the standard SKU. I have even seen some safedisc related files in the Windows 2003 Server installation (I think they were safedisc related -- it's been a few years since I spotted these files, and I remember checking MS' DLL Help database to verify the origin of those files). That is the only way they can let regular non-admin users install games. (by already hosting the parts that require admin access)

Personally I hate to swap DVDs. And I hate to hunt around my shelves so that I can spend ten minutes in a game to relax (between other activities). I am not a librarian... I am more than willing to buy a huge HD to host my games... In fact, I have done so already. It makes absolutely no sense to me that I should have to hunt around for a shiny disc to play the freaking game I just bought.

Fortunately, games like FS:X doesn't do that. So I purchased the deluxe edition.

I did not buy Spore, because I have been burned by badly functioning DRMs before, and I do not willingly walk into problems.

Too many times in the past have I been burned by DRMs that do not like new hardware or new operating systems. (Windows 2000 killed my "Discworld Noir" game; 64-bit Windows XP killed all sorts of DRMs, etc... Some games do not like my SCSI based DVD-ROM player, heck, even recent versions of PowerDVD now shuns my SCSI optical drives -- which is bad because I needed many drives so I did not have to hunt around for game discs)

In conclusion, I do not buy (nor play) many games these days. I am too lazy to swap DVDs, and I am too lazy to download some noCD crack. I read a review of Crysis: Warhead and was tempted to buy it, but now that someone commented that it too is hampered by some monster copyprotection, I will just skip it. I do not want to buy another DRM infested game. I'd gladly buy a game every fortnight otherwise, so if there are others like me out there, the distributors are not making as much money as they could have.

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