Sunday, November 09, 2008

Electronic Arts Hit With Two More DRM Lawsuits

We already knew that Electronic Arts had already been hit with a lawsuit over Spore's SecuROM DRM (digital rights management or copy protection), but it appears that in October the company was served with two other lawsuits.

According to GamePolitics, in the first case, Richard Eldridge from Pennsylvania, alleges that the Spore Creature Creator Free Trial Edition installed SecuROM on his PC. SecuROM is a pain, no matter what, and the lawsuit (.PDF) said:
Despite the fact that the Spore Creature Creator Free Trial Edition was "Free;" was downloaded from the EA website without any charge; and could be downloaded by anyone, anywhere; Electronic Arts the computers of all persons who downloaded the Spore Creature Creator Free Trial Edition. The inclusion of undisclosed, secretly installed DRM protection measures with a program that was freely distributed constitutes a major violation of computer owners' absolute right to control what does and what does not get loaded onto their computers, and how their computers shall be used.


Consumers are given no control, rights, or options over SecuROM. The program cannot be completely uninstalled. Once installed, it becomes a permanent part of the consumer's software portfolio.


EA's EULA for Spore Creature Creator Free Trial Edition makes utterly no mention of any Technical Protection Measures, DRM technology, or SecuROM whatsoever.
I refuse to play any SecuROM games, but why would EA place SecuROM on a free trial? I have to admit: I've steered away from demos of SecuROM-protected games over just this fear.

The second lawsuit alleges that EA's The Sims: Bon Voyage game put SecuROM on the PC of Dianna Cortez of Missouri so tightly that she could only rid herself of it by reformatting the hard drive.

Her lawsuit (.PDF) says:
After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer. She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either. Her computer reported that the USB drive and iPod were empty.


On a Sims 2 internet forum maintained by EA, Ms. Cortez discovered numerous postings that reported computer problems similar to hers and identified SecuROM as the problem. The forum also provided a SecuROM uninstall tool, created by Sony DADC. Ms. Cortez ran the uninstall tool but it did not remove SecuROM from her computer and her computer continued to suffer from problems.


Ultimately, frustrated with the problems SecuROM was causing to her computer, Ms. Cortez decided to restore her computer to the factory setting by reformatting her computer hard drive and reinstalling the operating system and other programs-with the exception ofBon Voyage. The process took her four days to complete, but with SecuROM completely removed from her system, Ms. Cortez's CD drive, iPod, and USB drive began functioning properly again and she no longer experienced the computer problems described above.
The earlier lawsuit I spoke of was filed by Melissa Thomas. Thomas and new plaintiff Richard Eldridge are represented by the same attorney, Alan Himmelfarb with KamberEdelson LLC.

Despite SecuROM's uninstall tool, as I said, I refuse to install any SecuROM-based games on my system. This pervasive type of DRM punishes consumers who might want to buy such programs, but one need only look at BitTorrent sites to see how easy it is for pirates who are determined enough to crack it.

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