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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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EA have lost the plot and my money.
By robinthakur on 9/25/2008 11:53:45 AM , Rating: 4
Hopefully some enterprising soul will create some malware that capitalises upon the security holes that Securom creates on users machines and the resulting legal action will put that company out of business.

My issues with Spore and Mass Effect in particular are:

*NO warning before you purchase the game about the activation limit. Its not even prominently displayed on the box

*That the only measurable thing in this equation is that the piracy rate of the game is not being dented, therefore who are EA trying to hurt here?

*Securom is extremely hard to deinstall for the vast majority of computer users. Its certaincly far easier to accidentally install it without fully understanding the consequences and the program behaves very much like a piece off malware even cafter the game in question has been deinstalled.

*Spores forums contain comment to the effect that "As long as you don't do things like reinstalling Vista then you can install the game as many times as you like. I reinstall Vista quite a bit on my machine for reasons which are my own. Who does EA think it is to tell me that software I purchased cannot be installed because the way I use my machine falls outside of their criteria??

The whole situation is ludicrous and hopefully this sh*tstorm of negative publicity will continue until they implement something simpler like, I dunno, a cd-key maybe?

By Belard on 9/25/2008 12:29:04 PM , Rating: 4
Sure... how about not buying ANY future EA titles as long as they continue to include secureROM on their titles.

We, as PC gamers need to KICK EA in the BALLS today. Otherwise more games will come we SecureROM or whatever and be running in the background. Geeez - Vista is bloated enough as is and these monkeys want to install more crap?

EA deserves to be sued, SecureROM needs to be SUED. And anyone who buys these titles should be part of the class-action suit. Figure the time it takes to remove the "root-kit like program" - such as reinstalling Windows if need be. Say 5~8hours of labor x $100 per her... and any software lost due to activation, etc... so about $800 per head... sounds fair.

In the previous article about SPORE on this site, I think I said that EA is looking at a class-action lawsuit. hey, didn't BioShock go through this already? yeah, we need to make a bigger stink now.

The new Crysis game will not be on my list... I guess that may also include Far Cry 2?

Come stupid game companies... STOP hurting your customers. Just put in basic protection (A CD Key) and let it go. BioShock and Spore and any game that ever comes out will be hacked before a person can pick it up at Best Buy... those who pirate will not care and will always get what they want. Stop wasting your resources for a losing battle.

RE: EA have lost the plot and my money.
By afkrotch on 9/25/2008 12:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
the program behaves very much like a piece off malware


By robinthakur on 9/30/2008 6:22:51 AM , Rating: 2
Specifically, it remains after you have deinstalled the main product, it stops certain other unrelated programs from working such as disc emulation tools and burning tools (which do have a legitimate usage) and makes a section of the registry read-only to try and resist deinstallation.

Clicking on the uninstall icon is not an option, despite this being a third party application and not part of the OS, hence I would declare this has far more in common with Malware than a legitimate program which companies like EA should be installing by stealth on their customer's pc's. Its just like Sony's rootkit fiasco, and when it got to court they were given a royal kicking. This should end no differently and is actually much worse.

Turning what you believe to be a one-off product that you purchase into a service provided on the whim of EA is not a pleasant proposition to most people if you put it in those terms.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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