EA hit with class action suit over 'Spore'

Class action lawsuit is filed against Electronic Arts for allegedly failing to inform consumers of a copy protection program that came along with Spore.

Electronic Arts may have attempted to appease angry customers by amending its digital rights management policy on Spore, but the company's DRM troubles aren't over yet.

Earlier this week, a class action suit was filed in the Northern District of California Court on behalf of Melissa Thomas and all other Spore purchasers. The suit contends that EA violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law by failing to inform consumers that by installing Spore, they also inadvertently install a program called SecuROM. SecuROM is a copy protection program that limits the number of times software can be installed on a PC. In the case of Spore, that limit was set to three (and later upped to five ).

"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," reads the complaint (PDF). "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."

The suit accuses EA of "intentionally" hiding the fact that Spore uses SecuROM, which it alleges is "secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel) and [is] surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation of the computer, and preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations." The suit also claims that SecuROM takes over a portion of a PC's processing resources "to transmit information back to EA."

The filing asks the judge to certify the class action complaint and award all plaintiffs the $49.99 purchase price plus damages.

The copy protections associated with Spore have dogged the highly anticipated game since its launch earlier this month. The original restrictions placed on the game outraged many consumers , thousands of whom retaliated by posting negative reviews of the game on Amazon.com or downloading it illegally from file-sharing sites.

Tor Thorsen of sister site GameSpot contributed to this report

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About the author

Jennifer Guevin is managing editor at CNET, overseeing the ever-helpful How To section, special packages, and front-page programming. As a writer, she gravitates toward science, quirky geek culture stories, robots, and food. In real life, she mostly just gravitates toward food.

 

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