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Court action against EA

Posted by ballightning on September 25, 2008

With all the vitriol surrounding Spore’s DRM, it was only a matter of time before lawyers got involved. Courthouse News Service reports (via Shacknews) that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Electronic Arts in federal court, which alleges the company defrauds its customers by not disclosing the installation of SecuROM copy protection as part of Spore’s installation.

Interestingly, while the most vocal complaints regarding Spore’s DRM have focused on the ways it limits the use of the game, this lawsuit is concerned with the fact that it exists at all. “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,” the complaint reads (you can read the full PDF document here).

“Consumers are given no control, rights or options over SecuROM,” the complaint continues. “The program is uninstallable. 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 in their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive.”

The complaint also argues that the copy protection software is “secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernal), and surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation on the computer, preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations.” What these certain circumstances and hardware operations are, however, are not detailed.

The lawsuit was filed by Melissa Thomas “on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated.” Thomas is represented by Alan Himmelfarb, of KamberEdelson of Vernon, California, and New York. The lawsuit is seeking payments for “actual damages, statutory damages, punitive or treble damages, and other such relief as provided by the statutes cited herein,” as well as restitution of legal fees and “relief in the form of restitution and/or disgorgement of all unlawful or illegal profits received by defendant as a result of the unfair, unlawful, and/or deceptive conduct alleged in herein” (you have to love legal writing).

While this lawsuit isn’t very surprising considering the controversy Spore has been under for its DRM, it is a bit odd when you consider Spore is far from the first EA game to use SecuROM copy protection — Mass Effect used the same software before it, and the recently released Crysis: Warhead (as well as the upcoming Red Alert 3) uses it as well.

 

By Kris Pigna

We’re be reporting more on the court action as it happens.

Story Link

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