Spore DRM

by Walter Olson on September 24, 2008

Electronic Arts/Maxis, which makes the new evolution simulation game Spore, gave it more aggressive digital rights management than many users wish it had, so it’s off to court with a lawsuit filed by class action firm KamberEdelson and named plaintiff Melissa Thomas. (Chris Faylor, “Spore DRM Prompts $5M Class Action Lawsuit”, ShackNews, Sept. 24; Courthouse News, Sept. 23).

{ 10 comments }

1 gitarcarver 09.24.08 at 11:36 pm

I have never understood how a computer program that the user does not own somehow can install other programs which phone home, require data be sent across the internet without the purchaser’s permission, cause damage to the purchaser’s computer and then the manufacturor says “sorry – we aren’t responsible for the damage our product caused.”

Buying a program does not give the manufacturor of that program the right to permanently install programs or change other settings on the purchaser’s computer.

2 John Burgess 09.25.08 at 10:03 am

It must be that good old shrinkwrap contract one ‘signs’ by clicking on the ‘I accept’ button during installation.

3 Deoxy 09.25.08 at 11:02 am

This is one of the few cases where I think the conduct at issue is egregious enough for a lawsuit. I still don’t like it, but at this point, the alternatives have been exhausted.

If I bought a car, and after I got it home, hidden equipment in the drivers seat demanded to give me an anal probe before ever letting me start the car again, I think that would consitute fraud (at the least).

That’s basically what is going on here (though not physically to your person, of course – to your computer, which they don’t own).

This suit will likely succeed or fail on the EULA issue (assuming it gets past technicalities to an actual trial) – the EULA is bound to cover this, so if the judge accepts the ridiculous post-sale nature of the EULA, well, EA is in good shape… and priniciples of property ownership are in very BAD shape.

4 gitarcarver 09.25.08 at 1:39 pm

In case you want to see it, the EULA for Spore can be found here:

http://www.gametreeonline.com/SporeEULA.pdf

5 mojo 09.25.08 at 2:08 pm

Probably ought to add MS to the list of deep pockets, er, I mean defendants. They created the DRM-install interface in the OS…

6 stfoley 09.25.08 at 2:49 pm

DRM is a sticky issue for sure.

It was the DRM that kept me from even buying this game, even though it’s what I’ve been asking for in a game since I bought a NES console back in the 80s.

It’s just not worth it to have a possibly uninstallable exploit waiting to happen installed on MY machine. A machine I spent HUNDREDS (yes logged) of hours to tweak and tune for optimum performance. On a gaming PC such as mine, DRM schemes like this tend to cause massive levels of grief. Things like having your system rendered unbootable (and thus having to re-install the OS, and all the apps, etc).

Really, we should expect to see more DRM related lawsuits in the future, as it’s never stopped a pirate yet (heck these games are still being leaked before they even go retail), and all it does is harass the legitimate customers.

7 Christian Olsson 09.25.08 at 6:01 pm

End users should be able to install the game/software on an unlimited number of computers and keep on adding installations, as hardware changes or system crashes etc. occur. The real item to control is not the number of installations; it is how many of these installations can be used, at the same time. Thus, with ByteShield, the permission to run moves from one PC to another, seamlessly. Further the Publisher need to be upfront with the end-user that they use DRM and what brand it is. For more information see the whitepaper “Is Anti-Piracy/DRM the Cure or the Disease for PC Games?” which can be downloaded here http://www.byteshield.net/byteshield_whitepaper_0005.pdf.

8 Keith Dickinson 09.25.08 at 8:46 pm

The problem with the DRM software they chose is that it exploits a back door capability in Windows to bury itself into the OS to such a point that you can’t remove it, even after you’ve uninstalled the original program.

To further add insult to injury, the software interferes with normal usage of a CD/DVD ROM burner as well as removing standard administrator permissions FROM ALL ACCOUNTS preventing you from properly controlling your computer.

In short, by installing this game, you give up any right to control you computer, what extra software they might want to install, and resign yourself to doing whatever they’ll allow you to do on the machine.

I’ve had several friends who’ve fought with this once they bought it and all but one I’ve successfully given them control back of their computer. The other person had his registry so trashed that the machine was bricked. Time to format and re-install. Oh, yeah, there goes one of your 3 installs.

DRM isn’t the answer. Already there are tons of posts on how to remove the DRM from your machine and/or the Spore software so that it’s no longer effective. I’m another one of those avid people who was looking forward to buying spore, but I won’t touch it now. Not until they remove the rootkit DRM application and stop treating the paying customer like a thief.

Cheers

9 PCLOV3R 09.29.08 at 12:41 am

This is pathetic! I am not going to buy this game unless they remove that worthless DRM stuff, nor will I recommend purchase to anyone I know. Obviously its not going to stop pirates, just paying customers from enjoying their product they purchase with their hard earned cash. Piracy is a difficult issue to overcome, but taking it out on the people willing to buy a game is not going to solve anything, but rather hurt the market for PC games even more.

10 gitarcarver 09.29.08 at 3:12 pm

A new development in this is that EA has made it so that if you sell your copy of Spore, delete the program off your computer, delete your account with EA, and make no copy of the progam, the second purchaser of the game cannot use it. The game will not allow the second owner to create a new account.

It is very difficult to defend so called DRM programs as “preventing piracy” when the program they protect is the number on pirated game of all time and the DRM program is limiting access and harming computers of legitimate purchasers of the program.

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