The Spore DRM Wars rumble on. The latest development is that a class action suit has been filed in the Northern District of California court. It’s being brought on behalf of Melissa Thomas, and all other Spore purchasers. That includes me, actually.
The suit alleges that EA violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law by failing to inform consumers that when installing Spore, they also inadvertently install a program called SecuROM. SecuROM is the DRM that EA use to limit the number of times Spore can be installed. The complaint says:
“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,”
“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.”
EA are being accused of hiding the DRM “intentionally”, and taking up computing power “to transmit information back to EA.” It asks the Judge to award all plaintiffs $49.99 (the value of the game), plus damages.
I think the plaintiffs have a strong case here, especially after Sony’s “rootkit” debacle a few years back. EA will have a hard fight on their hands to win this one, but if they lose, it’ll send a shockwave through the gaming industry. EA use some of the strongest DRM in the marketplace, and they’re hated by consumers for it, but they’re not the only users of DRM. Other companies will be watching carefully, too, to see what happens.