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Spore DRM Lawsuit Filed, 1 Million Copies Sold
Spore DRM Lawsuit Filed, 1 Million Copies Sold
September 24, 2008 | By Chris Remo

September 24, 2008 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

The ongoing Spore DRM fiasco continues on, as disgruntled customer Melissa Thomas has filed a class action lawsuit in California against publisher Electronic Arts, as reported by Courthouse News [PDF link].

Thomas' claim alleges that EA engaged in "deceit and concealment" by bundling Maxis' evolution sim with digital rights management software SecuROM, which cannot be uninstalled, and acted "in excess of any authority any user granted" by keeping SecuROM hidden even after being installed and allowing it access to the Windows registry.

The total value of the damages sought by the claim to be distributed among the affected class exceeds $5 million, based on estimations of purchases of the game and expected legal fees. The class includes anybody who has purchased a copy of Spore.

The suit also makes reference to the thousands of negative user reviews of Spore posted on online retailer Amazon, most of which centered around DRM complaints. Some of the cited reviews appear to be written not by customers but by those who refuse to purchase the game.

"I really wish they had an Xbox version so that I wouldn't have destroyed my computer trying to play a game," said one unhappy Amazon customer quoted in the suit, adding that EA's practices are "just evil."

[UPDATE: In a statement released this afternoon, Electronic Arts has announced that Spore has sold through more than one million copies at retail worldwide on the PC, Mac and Nintendo DS -- with more than 25 million creatures, vehicles and buildings created.

Spore is a hit,” said Frank Gibeau, president of the EA Games Label. “Will Wright’s latest delivers an incredibly diverse game that appeals to casual gamers and the core alike. We’re off to a great start moving into the holiday season and believe Spore will deliver a platform of creativity for gamers of all stripes for years to come.”]

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Wolf Wozniak
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Oh snaps.

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Turns out SecuROM really is a liability for EA. Whoops?

Michael Gehri
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Awesome... :)

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Look, there's a lawsuit now. That must validate everything everyone has ever said about DRM, SecuROM and Spore. Clearly all of those people on Amazon are correct. Clearly all those people on Amazon that claimed they have 10 friends whose hard drives were wiped by SecuROM...well, it was obviously all true wasn't it and not some crazy exaggeration related to hating DRM. Clearly many people were obviously affected by the 3 install limit that was changed to 5. All those people that were upset despite not being affected by this obviously weren't whining. It will not be relevant that EA is patching to allow you to uninstall and get one of your install counts back.

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I'm bored of this, can we just not develop PC games anymore? What's the point? If you develop something good it is a target for hackers and piracy. When you try and protect it, herd mentality has every man and his goat moaning about it even when they aren't affected by it.

Alan Rimkeit
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*points Nelson style* HA HA!

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My problem is with the ethical double standard. It has nothing to do with the number of installs I'm allowed or the fact that they're using DRM. I have nothing against DRM or a company that tries to protect their business.

But why should EA be allowed to surreptitiously install software that alters system behavior? Or that might deliberately cripple your system? If someone did that to their corporate computers, they'd press charges and demand hundreds of thousands in restitution even if no damage was done. If it's found that SecuROM really does all the terrible things people say it does, then EA should be held accountable. Look up "unauthorized access" laws in the state of California (Cal. Penal Code § 502) and ask yourself if someone has a case. Maybe they do.

Please don't deride a principled opinion as "herd mentality" or "crazy exaggeration." It's just not nice. If you have an argument for SecuROM, make it.

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SecuROM doesn't doing anything malicious therefore it is not malware, nor does it collect data from your machine and transmit it to EA therefor it is not spyware. It doesn't transmit itself from machine to machine, therefore it is not a virus.

It installs itself at a certain security level, considered acceptable by the OS. Yes there is an overhead to that, but it is not malicious nor meant to perceptibly alter system behavior or deliberately cripple a system.

There are security features in this software that take a defensive stance against certain dodgy operations from being performed on a computer and like most software, it is not perfect. It is very likely not bug free and I am sure it is very difficult to cater for every circumstance encountered on each unique machine.

I've installed many different types of software on my machine that install other things, drivers or otherwise. I've never had a problem with any SecuROM install myself, but if I had...despite being annoyed with it, it wouldn't be the first piece of software to be installed and introduce software I wasn't aware of, or drivers that bring on a blue screen of death, system altering behavior or worse. I sympathize with anyone who has had problems.

I have insight into why some problems might occur. I believe some claims for these problems are false and exaggerated. I accept that in some of these cases I feel are exagerated, I might be wrong about due to the reasons I describe's not possible to cater for every case and there will no doubt be extremes.

Again, I sympathize with anyone who has problems but this is the nature of software and despite inconvenience, problems on this scale are precisely why the concept of backups exist.

When you install your OS you are authorizing system wide access to all of your hardware. You are also authorizing the OS to allow installation of software at various levels, including SecuROM.

When you install Spore, you are authorizing it. The problem I see, is that the installation of SecuROM is not disclosed although as hinted at, most software installs things you don't know about, including your OS.

Even if it was disclosed, most people would still allow it and most of those same people would not have a technical issue with it.

I don't see the big deal. I can't see this lawsuit as valid. I even wonder if this lawsuit is a joke as I can't see any attorney would litter a filing with unsubstantiated complaints on amazon, or even technical accusations of mal, spy or virus ware.

If this case goes ahead, they have a lot to prove, much of which is technical nonsense and they no doubt have EULA liability releases to fight against.

Arthur Protasio
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I am against DRMs and in truth I recognize it doesn't stop piracy at all. For that matter only the lawful customers end up getting a service of the price they paid for.

On the other hand, I do understand that SecuRom does not have the intent of causing problems to the computer.

Problem is; EA didn't make it clear that SecuRom would be installed. On top of that, other developers, like CDProject and its GOG digital distribution, have shown that there are other methods to protecting your games/products.

How about catering to a healthy and happy developer-consumer relationship? Earning gamers through satisfaction, not fear, seems to be a smart approach.