EA sued over Spore DRM

Class action filed in US District Court contends that publisher hides fact game installs irremovable SecuROM, violating two California laws.

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Ever since Spore was released on September 7, an uproar has been growing. Many gamers have taken great exception to the fact the PC game comes bundled with SecuROM digital rights management software. One criticism is that SecuROM only allows the game to be installed on three computers before locking. As a result of the outcry, EA expanded the number of Spore installs to five PCs last week.

Still, a more persistent complaint is that, once installed, SecuROM cannot be removed. Accusations have also been leveled that the program amounts to malware or spyware, since it monitors computer use to prevent duplication.

Spore's use of SecuROM has sparked a major backlash, with pirates using the DRM as justification to download illegal copies of the title. A recent Forbes article pointed out that the game was widely pirated in the days after its release, with the blog TorrentFreak claiming 500,000 illegal downloads of the game were made in just one week.

Now, two weeks after the illegal response to Spore began, EA faces a new, legal challenge to its DRM policy. This week, a class action suit was filed in the North District of California Court by the law firm KamberEdelson on behalf of one Melissa Thomas and all other Spore purchasers. According to the filing, which was made available by Courthousenews.com, the suit contends that EA violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law by not informing consumers installing Spore will also install SecuROM.

"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," read the complaint. "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 "intentionally" hiding the fact Spore uses 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." The suit also claims the SecuROM takes over a portion of the PC's processing resources "to transmit information back to EA."

The filing asks the judge to certify the action as a class action, and award anyone in it damages equal to the purchase price of Spore and "actual damages, statutory damages, or treble damages." Given Spore's success, paying back thrice its $49.99 price tag could prove costly for EA, which had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

Discussion

621 comments
steelydoctorwu
steelydoctorwu

I understand the Piracy thing but I am not a Pirate and I do not and have never had in my Home any illegal software. The issues I have with Securom at this point have led me to vow I will never purchase another product which uses their services. This means I am going to be playing some old Games for a very long time but so be it, all good things must come to an end and it is not worth the hassle.

demoman_chaos
demoman_chaos

If you have the hard drive space, just copy the files from the Spore CD to your PC and install from there. SecuROM is trumped and victory is yours.

CivicGSR
CivicGSR

I'm so mad at EA about SecuROM; unless I plan to play a lot of multiplayer, I'm never paying for an EA game again. And Spore sucks anyways, I can't believe I got suckered into the hype and wasted 50 hard earned dollars... It was good to hear that Spore set a record for pirated copies... keep it up fellow gamers, lets fight these douches!

hurricaner
hurricaner

would you like to live in a world where whenever ea releases a new game they file 100's of lawsuits against ea!

dreadedlyfe
dreadedlyfe

If I had known that this crap was included I would never have paid my hard earned money($80, galaxy edition) on my computer. The only things that should be installed are the game. That's it. If it doesn't ask you, it is really no better than a hacker infecting you. The hackers, if caught, are supposed to be criminally penalized. That isn't even taking into account the civil penalties that they incur. If regular people go to jail for it and have to pay for it why should EA, or any other company, get away with it? I myself think that it is a total load of crap. Just another shining example of who really runs this country.

P-Ublius
P-Ublius

It's like herpes or something.

infernal_frog
infernal_frog

Good news: The Spore and Mass Effect lawsuits (yes, two have been filed) includes INTERNATIONAL customers :) So if you've purchased Spore or Mass Effect, just get in touch with the lawyers to provide information and whatnot. You can contact them via email or phone. The lawyers' contact info is on the front page of this site: http://reclaimyourgame.com This site ALSO has info on how to remove SecuROM, what it is, as well as updates on any SecuROM/EA related news. Good luck with the lawsuits, EA needs to own up to this. The only thing EA has done is caused paying customers to suffer, while the pirates play secuROM-free.

shaheermian
shaheermian

"I wasn't aware of SecureROM until now... I almost bought SimCity 4 the other day too, I'm glad I didn't! I definitely won't be buying any PC EA Games again regardless of what they do next." True.... or at least i'll do a deep research before buying one!

FriendBear
FriendBear

Another typical 'piracy' hurts our business whine, when will developers get a clue that piracy has never hurt the industry, developers and publishers releasing substandard, even critically bugged products to stores is the problem not to mention charging exuberant prices for them. If developers actually started to release 'complete' games again and lowered the prices it might actually restore some confidence in the gaming markets and many people might actually buy games instead of downloading them, of course, filling them up with hidden malware such as SecuRom and Starforce doesn't help either.

no_cultureicons
no_cultureicons

"Do you see any of the publishers suing all the gamers that got the game illegally?" No, but that's only because they couldn't possibly trace all those people. I wasn't aware of SecureROM until now... I almost bought SimCity 4 the other day too, I'm glad I didn't! I definitely won't be buying any PC EA Games again regardless of what they do next.

MrEddie
MrEddie

Stop putting money in protecting games(read sales). Try putting it back in the development of games, games that sell are good, games that are downloaded are bad or there are to much complications ( bugs, bad minimal req., only high end system.) its simple math!!!

eric_neo3
eric_neo3

SecuROM is the michael jackson of video games. The only ones who were really affected by this was people who bought the game sadly EA has somehow come to the conclusion that the paying customer is a criminal. Nappan I so agree with you: "Spore was pitifully easy to crack and distribute, and yet the truly honest people are the ones getting a poke in the eye with this SecuROM bull. In a very real way, this is a warning to either pirate or abstain from buying Spore, and also shows how desperate companies are to keep an artificially inflated market alive through illegal actions of their own. There is no moral highground here, only victims and victimizers."

exponential7216
exponential7216

Securom DRM is to Spore/Mass Effect/Bioshock is like what STDs are to that one night stand during shore leave. Sure you have your fun, with great eye candy to boot, but you are stuck with the consequences which are darn tough to get rid off...

nappan
nappan

This is tragic and amusing. Spore was pitifully easy to crack and distribute, and yet the truly honest people are the ones getting a poke in the eye with this SecuROM bull. In a very real way, this is a warning to either pirate or abstain from buying Spore, and also shows how desperate companies are to keep an artificially inflated market alive through illegal actions of their own. There is no moral highground here, only victims and victimizers.

Moloch121
Moloch121

rpgisforme your comparing children to DRM? and 4 kids use some protection! Though I hope EA loses because maybe this will stop them from using DRM its a hassle trying to install Mass Effect and Spore I had it since release didnt know it would stay even if i uninstalled

rpgisforme
rpgisforme

I've wanted spore and I'm thankful I didn't get it release day. I'll keep my money and they can keep their spyware! I pay for my games and I make legal copies of my own DVD's. I have 4 kids, I don't feel like replacing them all the time cause they've been scratched and I really don't like the sound of " preventing the computer from running under certain circumstances" like when I'm trying to make a legal copy of a disk I bought so I can keep the master safe from harm and protect my investment? No thanks EA!! Will Wright, I love your games, ya need to make them for a different company. A fair one.

fairlypriced
fairlypriced

Why bother with DRM/SecuROM - it doesn't stop pirates and angers genuine purchasers of the game. I played Spore for a week but the SecuRom is on for life! Looks like I'll be doing a format soon and if I get the urge to play Spore again it will have to be a pirate version!

Stryker521
Stryker521

LOL This is the people fighting back against EA (finally). "In yo face yo!"

agentgamma
agentgamma

Let me get this straight - The honest paying Joe gets **** on their computer installing a game while the pirates just get the game! And for free!?!?! This is totally stupid. I can understand that EA don't want people downloading their games. But this is too far. And no matter how much protection they place, people will find a way to pirate it.

mice16
mice16

I, personally, am not so incensed as to remove a huge portion of the profit incentive to make this game. This is too much.

hurricaner
hurricaner

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

hurricaner
hurricaner

this is EXACTLY why i read gamespot first and THEN buy games even more with EA first that piece of **** simcity 4 and now this!talk about a loss of reputation.**** you will wright!!!!!!!

5abdoul
5abdoul

c y i prefer console games?!?

TheGum
TheGum

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Rusty_Falcon
Rusty_Falcon

Screw EA...I am definitely NOT buying a game that has this sort of thing attached to it and I hope this incident causes them to lose TONS of money. Don't buy EA products! I'm pretty sure this will keep me from buying more EA games in the future as well, especially those for the PC.

gpvs
gpvs

I am not a legal guru, but as I understood general EULA is that the software coding belongs to the developer and not the usage there of: 1) This surely should exclude the amount of times a specific piece of software is installed and utilised. 2) Knowingly installing software on a target PC without the consent of the owner for the purpose of literrally spying on individuals are totally wrong, and as I understood it are against International treaty laws. 3) Physically altering the Operating System to trick it in thinking that your coding forms part of the Core Processes should be seen as spyware/malware programming. 4) EA should not only be sued in CA, but this should actually be extended to the Internatiol arena as not only the US are effected by this, this should become a federal matter as the US can be held responsible as EA is a US based company and this can be seen as digital terrorism. 5) I will not Purchase this game for the sole reason of them now spying on us. 6) I have been saying for the last year boycot EA, bring them back to their senses or their knees, what ever comes first. 7) I truly hope that this is a multi million dollar sue, teach them a lesson please!!!!!! 8) EA should rather sue torrent sites, instead of placing spyware on customer PC's.

Raysta01
Raysta01

I have a q. Does this only include people of California and therefore America? Or does it include International buyers of Spore?

ecs33
ecs33

@chief_527: What you say is true, but EVERY vendor suffers from theft. Most vendors simply dismiss theft as a natural loss if they cannot fight it and have no leads. Do you see vendors going around checking every single customer before they leave a store? Automatic store alarms placed at the exits of stores have helped somewhat, but it is very easy to take off sensors. Just because SOME people take an active part in theft doesn't mean that I should be assumed a criminal. This does not mean that I should be checked before leaving every store I shopped in. That is assuming I am a criminal. Thus, why should the same apply with securom? Just because some people illegally download software doesn't mean that I should be assumed one of those people. Not in a free country. Leave that to a more dictatorial state. It is wrong that software companies are suffering from theft. But they are not the only ones in the business. Assuming that we are all criminals only alienates your customers. EA is only making it worse for themselves.

cdo1536
cdo1536

The whole SecruROM idea was stupid and really slaps customers in the face, they deserve to get into trouble over that BS. But maybe I am just mad at EA for making an incomplete game, probably could have been fleshed out to be 3 times better and longer, with actual gameplay and not tedious features that really kill the joy of such limited gameplay.

chief_527
chief_527

I understand why they did it. I would do it too, if people were getting my game with out purchasing it. Gamers are seeing the other side of the coin, yet they take with such childish response. Do you see any of the publishers suing all the gamers that got the game illegally? I understand the software is not the best, but it is the community that forces such action from the publishers. Just because you can't afford it, it doesn't makes it OK to get illegally. Bunch of hypocrites invest in a $5000 computer, yet they can't buy a $50 game -- Pathetic.

nick0091
nick0091

I wonder how many people actually have read the article? People are making comments like stop whining and "buy" the game. (Not download illegally.) This is not the arguement at hand. People are complaining because EA is installing spyware on peoples computers.

Sauron2
Sauron2

NOooo i cant loan to all my cheapass friends! noo! babies, go buy it like the rest of us! and yes, support those game designers to make another great sequel. No money = no more sequels! Besides, this hasnt stopped crackers or pirates at all...

mo123567
mo123567

The worst thing is that EA only punishes people who pay for the game. Pirates are still completely able to get the game for free, minus any "security software".

EverteMax
EverteMax

well, if the game is good and proper, there WILL be people out there who won't sweat to pay the 60 bucks for a GOOD game...cos down the road, the good game becomes a worthy collection!

Rayze78
Rayze78

Ha ha, I cant believe people are actually suing over this though. Are you serious? Damages? People have way too much free time on their hands.

neusolie
neusolie

i want the game, but i want to keep my piracy and i dont want a program that acts like a virus

DukeBriggs
DukeBriggs

@ eli175: Actually, it is. Not the cd itself, but the cd-key.

kenyagi
kenyagi

I don't know about everyone else but from what I have seen, you can't stop piracy with a program. I would hear of a game coming out and hear of someone cracking the game the very same day. Every program has its kink in the armor and many people who know how to exploit this are going to not only because they want to but because they can. I know companies are bleeding from decreased sales from the eflux of pirated software but adding a program that will probably get hacked anyways is not the solution. (i.e. Windows loss of profits due to mass piracy of its product despite the commanding share microsoft has in the Chinese OS and office software market - pirated $1.50, legit ~$100 for XP) South Korea, for example, where pirated software is common place, the majority of game makers have died out because of the problems of piracy or have moved on to making online games (hence the end of games with much storyline and lack of games localized for Korea). Despite thes problems caused by piracy, there is no solution that is going to magically dissipate the problem. Yes, piracy is a crime, and sadly most types of crimes will never disappear for the common reason that people are not perfect. Instead of trying to remove a problem that is only going to come back kicking harder, restructuring of marketing strategies are needed with piracy included as a factor (detrimental as it is). Countries where illegit software are not considered "wrong" especially due to the low availability of the software should be given a easier way to get the program,thus giving a choice in the matter, even if it means lowering the price for that specific locality (i.e. Microsoft proposal to reduce XP prices in China to $37 so that it is more affordable to the general public). Certain definite losses are to also be expected, those who want or even require the software but lack the monetary power are highly likely to use a pirate version. Others might just not care if the company has losses, and others might just not be compelled enough to buy legit copies of the software simply because no one else is doing so. Game developers and companies are suffering from this for sure but it gives no one person, group, or even country ruled by common laws the right to violate the rights of others and to ignore the common law to alleviate problems. Legit consumers have the right to choose what goes in their computers which contains sensitive material as well as the right to not have someone watching over their backs. We are not to be treated as collaterals in an eternal struggle between piracy and companies.

eli175
eli175

I don't see the point in restricting installs, it's not like the CD is linked to the internet to report how many times it's been installed.

eli175
eli175

I don't see the point in restricting installs, it's not like the CD is linked to the internet to report how many times it's been installed.

rafaronie
rafaronie

Eat it EA! Hope it taste real good.

CaptainCrazy
CaptainCrazy

This kind if copy protection is just plain wrong. Besides the terrible fact that it only lets you install the game a limited number of times, the process will continue running indefinitely with no way to easily remove it. They can't do this.

Rayze78
Rayze78

I dont have a problem with a game company protecting their product. But I kind of have a problem with the fact that it stays behind even if the game is gone. How many resources does it take from your computer, whether the game is on or not? Does anyone know?

aryoshi
aryoshi

EA nowadays is being a pain in the tush. Whatever happened to the good ol' days when they were JUST another 3rd party company back in the Genesis/SNES days? Good old Road Rash 1-3. e_e

npkgardens
npkgardens

Xen0raptor: Well that worked a while ago. I guess they figured out a way to keep it out of the services list. Sorry. And that does make it even worse. I have always paid for my games fair and square, since I believe in supporting the developers, but as others here imply, we may be getting to a stage in this DRM madness where it is less risky to your computer to pirate a game than to buy it. Very sad. Very bad for the industry.

sanjeev3
sanjeev3

digitized = digitised Well, they got whats coming. Hopefully they dont ever sue this trash program again or even consider it.