EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

September 24, 2008 -

Despite making a recent concession to consumers, the Spore DRM saga doesn't seem likely to stop vexing publisher Electronic Arts any time soon.

In the latest development, Courthouse News Service reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court. From the CNS story:

Electronic Arts, a leading maker of computer games, defrauds consumers through its "Spore" game, which "completely wipes their hard drive" and replaces it with an undisclosed program that prevents the computer from operating under some circumstances and disrupts hardware operations, a class action claims in Federal Court. 

 

The class claims that "Spore," a virtual reality simulation game, contains "a second, undisclosed program" called SecuROM, a "form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) for computer games."

 

Consumers are not warned about the program, which is installed without notice and cannot be uninstalled, even if the uninstall Spore, the complaint states. The secret SecuROM program is "secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel), and surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation on the computer, preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations," the complaint states.

Copy of the lawsuit here.

GP: Thanks to GP reader nighstalker160 for tipping us to this one via Shoutbox.


Comments

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Well there are many who can say they never had a single problem with their xbox 360, but that doesn't make the red rings of death any less real... From what i have been hearing of the issues of SecuROM, the problems it can cause are not 100% certain to happen. While you say you never had a problem, others have said they did... Only a fraction of people end up expereincing problems... but even if it can cause serious problems for only a fraction of people does not make it ok for the software to be in there; espeically since most people buy the games without even knowing about the malware that comes with the game (ane you throw in the fact that lots of places don't allow returns for PC games after the box has been open)

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Thats good to know, and quite relieiving thanks, although I heard rootkits are notoriously hard to detect, I'll choose to trust your judgement for the sake of peace of miond.

 

Thanks

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Well, to be honest, I'd do some looking myself if anything. I used a detector suggested by one of the 'it has rootkit' proponents at the time, and it came up with zilch at the time. I plan on running another search tonight, though since I installed Bioshock, I've also installed Crysis, Spore, and Crysis: Warhead (through Steam)... three potential rootkit sources if what others are saying are true.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Crysis has securom too? damn, I really have to stop buying EA stuff, first they start putting securom into games then they start shipping them without endings....whats next?

Damnit, what with me now boycotting EA and securom, adding to my mmo boycott (they can monthly charge my ass, its not really the charge itself its the blatant profiteering, if they made a game with variable fee structure depenedent on server and admin costs THEN i might buy) the market is getting small....

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Yeah, apparently it does. It's never come up before though.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

That would mean that the DRM doesn't bother you.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

 It sticks now even if you uninstall. Bioshock may have been an older version.

 

There are even people who say that it keeps itself through reformats.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

If they have multiple hard drives, and they don't reformat the os drive.

Otherwise they are idiots.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

 Wow so if you reformat the disk where the game is installed that will remove registry keys? THAT'S AMAZING! 

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

I just paged through the complaint briefly (it's a 36 page complaint.)  I don't see it mentioning the "complete wipe" of the hard drive, but I could have missed it.

It seems like a fairly standard complaint, vague, open ended, not really backed up by evidence.  That's pretty standard, it doesn't take much to state a valid claim.  You aren't required to present any evidence (that's covered in the discovery process which doesn't start until AFTER the claim is validated).

What I do find interesting is that they quote some of the Amazon.com reviews that complained about the DRM as evidence (not admissible in court, but that doesn't matter for a complaint) that this program causes problems.

I don't know if you read the actual complaint, if you just read the CNS blurb (which is what Dennis quoted above) it does seem a little flimsy.  But the complaint itself is pretty standard language, nothing particular different about it from most other complaints.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

About time, Securom embodies all the draconian DRM measures companies take and this will hopefully be where we draw the line in the sand and say no

I didnt find out about securom in bioshock untill after I'd got it and I'm really annoyed, but I'll be boycotting spore and any other game with it untill its removed (unlikely)

 

Treating consumers like pirates only makes them want to be pirates and does nothing to disuade the real ones, You'd think EA would know this but since they make their living shafting consumers obviously they dont care.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

I keep hearing the term "draconian measure", what does that mean exactly?

 

"The world if full of stupid people....watch out."

 

"The world if full of stupid people....watch out."

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

1.

of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Draco or his code of laws.

 

2.

(often lowercasehttp://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.png) rigorous; unusually severe or cruel: Draconian forms of punishment.

 

Draco was an early BC Greek nobility.  He created a set of laws (partly notable for distinguishing between murder and involuntary homicide).  But assigned the death penalty as the result for a large portion of crimes including many simpler crimes.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

An over the top response basically.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

It's a reference to an old Greek lawmaker "Draco" who prescribed very harsh penalties for very small offenses.

For example:

If you went into debt (by any amount)...you were sold into slavery

If you stole a loaf of bread...death

etc.

 

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

While I've long since come to understand that it means ultra-strict, I will always associate the word "Draconian" also with either the aliens from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century or from the Doctor Who episode "Frontier in Space." ;)

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Until today, I thought it was a refernce to dragons. You never double-cross a dragon. Never.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Seriously.  I knew this one guy who double-crossed a dragon once.  the results weren't pretty.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Ah, thanks.

 

"The world if full of stupid people....watch out."

"The world if full of stupid people....watch out."

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

What's hilarious is that I came across this via StumbleUpon which linked to the CNS document, I didn't believe it at first (it IS StumbleUpon) I was pretty surprised when I checked it out.

They could get into trouble for claiming the DRM "completely wipes their hard drive" since it doesn't do that (in most cases...I guess anything could happen).  But most courts will allow you to amend your complaint, within reason.  Who knows thoguh, maybe it did wipe these particular hard drives (or screwed the computer up so much a complete reinstall of the OS was required).  This is EXACTLY what I saw coming a while ago with this kind of DRM, the loss of data (important data...people keep valuable stuff on their computers now).

I hope EA is at least forced to go through an expensive litigation process (even if the Plaintiff's don't win) because it might force a change to avoid future litigation.

At this point I'm hoping this survives what's called a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.  Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 12(b)(6) the Plaintiff's have to state a valid claim.  EA will move for the court to just dismiss this claim out of hand for failing to state a valid claim.  IF the Plaintiff's can get past that (which is ALWAYS the first thing the defendant's try) then we have a real case.

If this case survives a 12(b)(6) it means the court will consider these valid complaints, which opens the floodgates.  Every game EA releases with DRM comparable to SecuROM is going to result in one of these suits.  Which hopefully will at least force EA to make SOME real changes (not just upping the install limit) to avoid having this repeat with every game they release.

I'm happy they're going after SecuROM based on the problems it causes with the install instead of just the usage restraints (the install limit) since EA can't walk in and say "We upped the install limit, problem solved" and the court just agrees an install limit of 5 is good enough...issue moot...case dismissed.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Indeed, seems like the courthouse blurb writer got it wrong.  I've never seen complaints that Securom wiped hard drives, only that wiping the drive is sometimes the only option left to get rid of Securom and all its traces.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

From looking at the complaint itself, it doesn't look like the suit claims that Securom completely wipes their hard drive. Rather it claims that completely wiping the hard drive is the only way to remove Securom.

-Gray17

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Thanks for clearing that up. Looks like a case of "bad summary" rather than "bad lawsuit".

I hope those buggers at EA lose big time. There is absolutely no excuse for secretly installing software that takes over basic operating-system functions, potentially harming the system.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Aren't there viruses that take less to get rid of? yuck. I hope they bend over EA and get em for every penny they can, fuck that shit. :(

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Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

AHHHH that makes much more sense (and removing it without complete wipe means editing the registry...which often leads to a complete wipe). 

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Yeah, page three of the complaint, lines 4-10. Didn't see any other mentions of hard drive wipes, but I started skimming after a while.

-Gray17

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

And so it begins...

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Indeed. Here's hoping things get interesting...

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Hopefully a suit like this will actually do something against SecuRom but, I can't really see this thing going far.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

I can't either, especially if they actually worded the complaint like that.  Spore does not "wipe your harddrive"..

 

The most we can realistically hope for, in my opinion, is EA being required to put a SecuROM sticker on the box, with another sticker indicating you can only install the game 3 times.  They obviously don't want to do that, since those could cause people not to buy the game - which, of course, is the only real solution.  We stop buying, they stop putting DRM on.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

I think they ment, that you have to wipe your hardrive to get rid of the malware spore installs...

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Yeah.  If they say it wipes your hard drive, the case will be thrown out in the first five minutes of the preliminary hearings.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

I don't know, I think the timing of it will prove quite important. It's not like this is some quick-buck class action law-suit being launched 5 years after the fact. How long has Spore been out now? 3 weeks?


-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Well, the lawyers need to brush up on their computer terminology, but gratz to them for taking on the bohemoth that is EA. 

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Can you imagine a 'lawyer' like JT explaining something using computer terminology and doing it correctly?  I would really enjoy seeing JT actually try, but he might make a fool of himself like that one politician that said that the internet is a series of tubes.

---

This is staying at the bottom of every new post I make until GameSpot reports on Spore's DRM, EA's apologie, how gamers have reacted, AND the Class Action Suit against EA over Spore's DRM.  You can forge your own opinion on if they are in bed with EA since they don't publish dirty news about them, try to swing news to make EA look pretty, or keep it nutural and fact based instead of doing their job to inform the gamers.

http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/09/15/former-egm-editor-dishes-sorry-st...

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Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

and you misspelled apology

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

I give up, haha, thanks.  They have the article up now, well, the EA getting sued, I doubt they will ever cover that EA admitted they did something wrong.

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Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

You mispelled 'neutral'.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

dang me, i forgot to check... thank you

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Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

The first official shot is fired. The rebellion has started.


-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

*Hums the Tie Fighter bit from the Star Wars score*

*Dudududududududududududu-Dudududududududududududu-Nana-nanana-nanananananaaa!*

 

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Now all we need is Darth......blast, what's the CEO of EAs name again?


-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

isn't it peter moore

Darth Moore, I like it.

United we Stand, Divided we fall.

There have always been motherf*ckers, there will always be motherf*ckers, but what we can't do is let them control our motherf*cking lives. -John Oliver, December 1st, 2008

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Here's hoping the lawyers don't goon something up to let EA off on a technicality.  I pray this works.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Even if they do, this sort of thing is an inconvenience to EA. Digging through lawbooks and case files and finding a technicality is not a trivial task.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Win or loose, they will have to pay their lawyers.

I hope 'EA': the DRM serves you well, in getting people to buy the game that 'otherwise would not' - I suspect that's a fallacy the RIAA has been whining about for a long time and they, like EA obviously, believe they loose a lot more money than they really do. I really can't think of a way for a business to loose more money than to go after their customers in court and/or add stupid things to the product to piss them off.

See - EA, along with the RIAA are in the business of entertaining people, it's not necessary at all. I never have to buy a game or a music CD, period; ever. Heck, you know, I think the very first EA game I ever played was a 'cracked' version - older game, I'm sure. I likely got it from an 'Elite' BBS in the form of zipped up floppy disks... I've been gaming for a while now, yes :)

Since, I have bought the SIMS and SIMS2 (among others like Battlefield, Need for Speed, probably 15 others too) - in both cases, 90% of the full package of expansions too. I've got a lot of EA games. But ever since the hassles I ran into with 'Bon Voyage' (SIMS2) and hearing how DRM is 'king' at EA; in spite of ANYTHING else, I avoid your games like the plague. So at least in my case, specifically; DRM has lost EA money. No other way to spin it.

Look - I gotta work for a living all week. I simply do not have time to re-install the full SIMS2 each time I add an expansion pack. The re-install comes from the fact that when installing expansions, it wants the old disks from the original game and/or former expansions again in order for the new expansion to install - AKA cheesy DRM. Then, it complains 'the game is not up to date' or some crap like that (it's been a while) and basically, even on their support forums - the fix is to re-install the whole damn thing.

Screw that, I bought WoW, got tired of that and I'm playing EQ2 now. I bought Bon Voyage for the SIMS2 and have never played it, at all. In the time I would have spent re-installing the SIMS2 for the 15th time (9+ disks... that's a pain now), I downloaded something else that won't give me incessant problems each time I add on content.

Maybe I outta email them along with the list of EA games I've purchased - but naaaa, I don't like to waste time on stupid shit. In spite of the fact that EA has had some pretty cool games.

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

"lose"

Re: EA Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Spore DRM

Yeah, I was wondering where this money would be 'loosed', and what it would do when given its freedom.

 
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