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New Class Action attempts to shut down DRM forever

Posted by ballightning on December 6, 2008

Just when we thought the whole DRM in spore issue has gone away, California resident Alex McQuown added one more Spore suit to the pile. However unlike previous class actions, attorneys are attempting to use Spore as a symbol for Electronic Arts’ entire SecuROM initiative, and hope to shut it all down at the same time.


Story at GameCyte.


Filed in California’s Northern District Court by attorneys from the offices of Finkelstein Thompson, the body of the lawsuit looks much the same as the three submitted by Thomas, Eldridge and Cortez earlier this year. In much the same way, it calls out SecuROM for secretly installing itself on the computers of unwitting Spore Creature Creator users; in much the same way, it talks about SecuROM as a pest that interferes with other software and hardware, and one that can never be completely removed.

The lawsuit even invokes the same statutes — McQuown claims that EA represented the game unfairly under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, engaged in deceptive and unfair business practices under the Unfair Competition Law, and generally trespassed upon their personal property by failing to disclose that the game included this secret program.

But McQuown’s suit has three key differences from those that have come before. First, his lawyers claim that SecuROM isn’t merely a nuisance, but that it actually causes physical harm to the computers of those who use it. The document cites “a damaged CD-ROM drive” and “a damaged graphics card” among McQuown’s issues, and states that the class members “will have to spend countless hours and money to repair the damage to their computer.” (bolding ours)

Second, the document suggests that SecuROM is useless even for its intended purpose, and thus that “EA has needlessly caused [sic] its consumers time, money and frustration by having to repair various computer problems.”

20. Although EA put SecuROM in its games to prevent piracy, SecuROM has been ineffective in preventing the illegal downloading of EA games.  To the contrary, piracy of some SecuROM games has risen sharply. For instance,  just three weeks after EA released Spore in September 2008, the game had been illegally downloaded over 500,000 times on a popular peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. Indeed, SecuROM has done little to prevent piracy, and, instead, has led to many frustrated game owners who now face a host of computer problems.

But third, buried near the end of the document, is the kicker — the lawsuit isn’t just about Spore:

The class is initially defined as follows: All persons or entities in the United States that have purchased an Electronic Arts computer game with SecuROM.

Edge Online reported Monday that former plaintiff Thomas had dropped her class-action, in favor of being consolidated into a larger class-action suit that law firm KamberEdelson is currently trying to create. GameCyte has contacted Finkelstein Thompson, the firm on McQuown’s case, in an attempt to discover if there might be similar plans for this suit.

Update: Rosemary M. Rivas, an attorney on the case, told GameCyte that while class-action lawsuits of this sort are judged related or consolidated as a matter of course, she could not comment on the firm’s intent to work with proactively work with other current class-action suits at this point in time.


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