Spore's DRM = Class-Action Lawsuit for EA

Spore is a critically-acclaimed game, but (at least by users) its DRM has been universally panned. Many of those who know anything about the SecuROM copy protection used in the game don't want it near their computers, unless they absolutely have to. And while Electronic Arts (EA) has "loosened things up" slightly, the DRM has spawned thousands of negative reviews at Amazon.com and protest creatures. And now, it has birthed a class action lawsuit (.PDF). The lawsuit was filed on Sept. 22nd by Melissa Thomas, represented by Alan Himmelfarb and Scott Kamber with KamberEdelson LLC.

The lawsuit makes a number of statements, including:
What purchasers are not told is that, included in the purchase, installation, and operation of Spore is a second, undisclosed program. The name of the second program is SecuROM, which is a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) for computer games. Although consumers are told that 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 computers, along with the Spore download. Consumers are given no control, rights, or options over SecuROM. The program is uninstallable. Once installed, it become (sic) 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 in their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive.
and later:
Nowhere in any of EA's discussions, responses or explanations of its DRM did EA disclose that the Spore disk contained a separately install, stand alone, uninstallable DRM program which would install itself to the command and control center of the computer and oversee function and operation on the computer, preventing certain user actions, preventing certain user programs from operating or disrupting hardware operations.

Definitely, Spore used to be extremely hard to get rid of. Now, the company provides an uninstaller that can be downloaded from their website. So that part of the lawsuit is invalid, although it should be noted that well-behaved programs should uninstall everything when they are removed. Granted, if SecuROM was needed for another game on the system, it should remain, but if not, the need to run a separate (and not included!) uninstaller is a pain, to say the least. As far as not being told about SecuROM, that's true. Some sort of DRM is mentioned in the EULA, but not the exact type. And honestly, consumers have been asking for the type of DRM to be displayed on the box for a long time (which is why we always do a web search for the type of DRM a game has before buying it). 

As far as "preventing programs from operating or disrupting hardware operations," We do remember some past DRM that upchucked if virtual drives were used on a system, but we thought that was Starforce, though admittedly, we could be wrong. We didn't think it was SecuROM, but hey: we refuse to use either Starforce or SecuROM because they do so much to a system, we'd rather not play the game than deal with the risk.

At any rate, a lot of this lawsuit seems questionable, at best. While we would definitely agree that the DRM is a pain and that, in reality, it doesn't stop anyone who really, really wants to pirate the game (take a look at BitTorrent sites for torrents for this game), we're not sure this lawsuit will fly. It does, however, do one good thing: casts attention on PC game DRM. As we said, those who really want to pirate the game will do so. The only ones being hurt by this and other forms of DRM are honest consumers.