EA Sued Over Spore DRM

Hasn't stopped a million sales, though

Posted by Staff
EA Sued Over Spore DRM
A disgruntled gamer going by the name of Melissa Thomas has filed a class action suit against Electronic Arts in the District Court for Northern California. Why? It's that pesky Digital Rights Management (DRM) software in Spore again!

Specifically, Ms Thomas's complaint, as filed by Alan Himmelfarb with KamberEdelson of Vernon, California and New York, is related to - "Electronic Arts... engaging in deceptive and unlawful conduct in designing, marketing, distributing, and selling a computer game that contains undisclosed and unconsented to Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology."

Getting into the meat, the complaint reads, "Although consumers are told the game uses access control and copy protection technology, consumers are not told that this technology is actually an entirely separate, stand-alone program which will download, install, and operate on their computer.

"Once installed, it becomes a permanent part of the consumer's software portfolio. Even if the consumer uninstalls Spore, and entirely deletes it from their computer, SecurROM remains a fixture on their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive."

Furthermore, the program is, "Secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel) and [is] surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation of the computer, and preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations."

The suit is calling for a refund, damages and the disgorgement of profits from the game.

Controversy over the DRM has, ironically, been cited as the reason for widespread piracy of Spore. TorrentFreak claimed that there had been over 500,000 illegal downloads of the game as of September 13th. Many users have claimed this is a response to the DRM, with pirated copies circumventing it.

Still, that hasn't stopped legitimate sales of the game reaching one million copies worldwide, according to EA. The company also states that 25 million creations (including vehicles and buildings) have been uploaded to Sporepedia. It should be noted, however, that the one million figure includes sales of the DS version, Spore Creatures (which is radically different to the PC version). It would be interesting to see the platform breakdown but, as you would expect, EA isn't dishing that up.

Because of all the complaints EA has received over the DRM, it recently loosened up the number of installations users can carry out from three to five.

For more on Spore, see SPOnG's dedicated game page.

Courthouse News



Ben from Baltimoree 3 Oct 2008 13:11
You would think that these idiots would learn after the Sony rootkit music CD copy protection scandal of 2005? Neil Diamond had went back to work with Rick Rubin (American Recordings) because he said that the Sony rootkit scandal screwed him over big time. My laptop that I had in high school (Pentium 3 750 mhz, Windows 2000 Pro, Internet Explorer 6) got messed up by the Sony rootkit software and my stepdad, a civilian PC technician for the US Army, spent hours trying to fix it and ended up wiping the hard drive and reinstalling Windows. Now my friend's coworker's sister claims that her college's PC technician said that Spore's SecuROM DRM had caused her laptop to freeze up whenever she tries to start any other program then IE7, Firefox, or Opera for Windows. Thank God that she backed up her work on her USB flash drive and took her factory reinstall image CDs with her.
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