EA Sued over Spore DRM

By Mike on 10:18 am

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The Spore fiasco continues, on yesterdays news of EA's Spore breaching the 1 million sold mark, today we hear of angry customers suing the gaming giant over its SecuROM DRM system. The class action suit cites the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law stating that EA failed to inform consumers of DRM restrictions placed on Spore.

According to the complaint...

"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, SecuROM remains a fixture on their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive."

The suit accuses EA of deliberately hiding the fact that Spore includes SecuROM, which it alleges 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." Furthermore, the suit also complains that SecuROM takes over a portion of the computers processing power to transmit information back to EA.

The suit seeks damages to the tune of $49.99, the retail cost of the game plus additional damages (presumably legal fees) for each participant in the suit.

The suit reinforces what I've been saying about DRM for a while now. Game publishers are deceiving consumers by not disclosing DRM restrictions. Does this lawsuit stand a chance? I can't really say since I'm a political scientist and not a lawyer. Hopefully though it will bring meaningful changes to the way DRM is handled in PC gaming. Developers should be forced to disclose all DRM restrictions on the games packaging. However, this is showing that the more restrictive you make DRM, the more people will not stand for it. Spore is one of the first games that has introduced the non-gaming crowd to the harsh and intrusive restrictions that have been plaguing PC games for several years now. At best for EA, this is still a PR nightmare regardless of whether they win or not. EA is still claiming that DRM is necessary to prevent piracy. This is despite the fact that statistics are proving otherwise. It's planned obsolescence pure and simple and hopefully EA will be made to pay for it.

Source: CNET

Update: The Register contains some more details about the suit. The case seems surprisingly air tight since EA does not provide any warning whatsoever in the EULA about SecuROM.

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