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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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RE: EA and DRM
By afkrotch on 9/26/2008 10:41:28 AM , Rating: 2
Also, 'at least I'll have someone I can sue'... this kind of attitude is what is wrong with the 'voluntary' legal system. Don't like the law? Sue until you do!

What's exactly wrong with it? If Spore/DRM breaks my computer and I have to spend X amount of dollars to fix the problem, I expect EA to reimberse me. If they don't, I can hold they legally responsible.

Just because the computer hardware doesn't break, doesn't mean I don't lose valuable time and money when the software breaks.

RE: EA and DRM
By robinthakur on 9/30/2008 6:12:49 AM , Rating: 2
Its a sad world when you have to worry about malicious software packaged with a retail game from a world-class company breaking your computer and being virtually impossible for a non technical person to deinstall. Why should you even have to worry as you paid money for it. It leads back to the presumption of guilt and EA being really nice to allow you to play this fantastic confection. As long as you don't want to resell it...

If Securerom does actually 'break' your OS or ability use some programs which you might have legitimately purchased (like some burning tools) then do you honestly think that a disclaimer to that effect isn't included on the T&C's you have to agree to when you install Spore? The whole area of corporate liability to flawed software is a very shaky area, just look at Microsoft. Sony got burned on this and hopefully so will EA as I consider it underhanded and against the spirit of goodwill shown by the customer in forking over money for the damn product.

I don't really get why software is unlike any other industry. The case in point where you only get the EULA (which overrides your statutory rights) AFTER you open the game and are unable to return it for a refund is just absurd.

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