AfterDawn: Tech news

EA gets class-action sued over Spore DRM

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 25 Sep 2008 18:24 User comments (38)

EA gets class-action sued over Spore DRM A class action lawsuit has been filed against Electronics Arts claiming that the publisher is violating California law by hiding the fact that the hit game Spore install SecuROM DRM which is impossible to remove.
EA has been under fire since the release of the game on September 7th with many gamers taking exception to the crippling SecuROM DRM which allows for the game to only be installed 5 times over its lifetime and only allows for a single user profile.

The more bitter complaint however is that after it is installed, SecuROM cannot be removed and will linger on your PC until a reformat. SecuROM could even be considered malware by some accounts as it will monitor your computer's activities, preventing duplication.

The SecuROM backlash seems to be hitting EA in their wallets as well, with some reports saying 500,000 illegal downloads were made of the game in just the first week.

The new suit, filed by law firm Kamber Edelson on behalf of all Spore buyers, says the publisher violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law by not making clear that SecuROM cannot be uninstalled once installed.

"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. "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, SecurROM remains a fixture on their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive."

SecurROM DRM "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," says the complaint.

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38 user comments

125.9.2008 19:10
1bonehead
Inactive

With this lawsuit, and non full disclosure, they got what they deserved. Reminds me of Sony and their root kit virus on their music cds and the investigations by state AGs

225.9.2008 19:41

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!

325.9.2008 20:06

Can it be true?

Is there to be justice?

YEAH!

425.9.2008 20:16

Fantastic!

525.9.2008 20:22
susieqbbb
Inactive

Finally!!!

I am glad to see this securom Drm should be considered malware and even spyware first No company has the right to monitor what you do on your computer this lawsuit should also contain that it violates the internet protection act because in the internet protection act it says that no one has the right to unlawfully search peoples computers without a warrent but the drm in spore is doing this on a constant basis.

625.9.2008 22:00

buy spore now! u can join in and win big bucks =D

725.9.2008 23:17

1bonehead

Quote:
Reminds me of Sony and their root kit

I believe SecuROM is another quality (cough) product from Sony.

This class action lawsuit is a good thing. Go get em!

826.9.2008 1:09

Originally posted by lxfactor:
buy spore now! u can join in and win big bucks =D

Damn, he's right, ain't he?

926.9.2008 1:34

I would have SPORE by now if it weren't for that damn DRM! I am trying to keep this computer totally legit so i am not doing the torrent thing these days! but 3 years ago i would have snagged it up in a second! Another game will get my $50 for there game but it wont be EA today!

Didn't the big giant M$ go threw a lawsuit over IE & not being able to uninstall it quite a while back? then Sony now EA? common guys!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 1:37

1026.9.2008 4:43
13thHouR
Inactive

What will happen is that SecuROM will be removed from the North American titles for fears of continual law suits, and everywhere else in the world will continue to get shafted, just as UbiSoft did with Starforce DRM, or it will be scaled back to it's previous malware incarnation, or they will continue to sell the titles with the DRM and actually inform customers that the software is only a rental title instead of actively concealing the face so as not to hamper sales.

An addition to the law suits could be the "first sale doctrine" approach, or that SecuROM should have it's own EULA, as it is a separate programme from the main software and because this is not the case SecuROM should be in the Spore's EULA, it should be removed completely with the said software and it should be printed on the Box and web site if purchased from on-line regarding the restrictive licensing.

But hey DRM is just here to be anti-consumer so why do any of these companies give a flying ****?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 4:46

1126.9.2008 5:14
SamNz
Inactive

Originally posted by 13thHouR:
But hey DRM is just here to be anti-consumer so why do any of these companies give a flying ****?
Cause now they have just had a massive shit taken on them lol. when will they learn

1226.9.2008 5:31

can i donate $ to help this go through?

1326.9.2008 7:35

This is great, have fun EA.

1426.9.2008 9:13

I didn't buy Bioshock for the same reason. Buying original software has turned into a hellish nightmare of forced online product activation, malware infestation, serial number hassles and limited install rights.

This all goes back to the B.S. you find in every game copyright legal notice - which claims that you don't OWN the software you BUY, you only have a license to use it - as they see fit. No wonder DRM is so hated.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 9:14

1526.9.2008 10:39

This has to be one of the best examples of why drm doesn't work.

1. First people find out how invasive and anti-consumer the drm is and refuse to buy the game.

2. People who want the game get the BETTER pirated version and some just pirate out of spite or principle (whichever you prefer).

3. After EA's name has been dragged through the mud (more than it usually does) they have a lawsuit filed against them for trying to deceive the consumer.

The real victims in all of this are the game developers that make good sometimes great games that are then strangled with drm and never have a chance to fully reach the marketplace.

Down with EA if they don't learn form this disaster rather quickly then my already negative opinion of them will reach a new low. I'm quite sure many other people feel the same. EA really shot themselves in the foot with this one and if they continue on with business as usual they deserve all the bad press, poor sales numbers, falling stock prices, ect...

1626.9.2008 12:00

Free malware included at no extra charge, yippee!

Mirror's Edge looks interesting but the first thing that came up on the trailer was the EA logo, eww. I won't be supporting EA, even if there is a console version of the game. Die you bastards!

1726.9.2008 12:56

Quote:
Originally posted by lxfactor:
buy spore now! u can join in and win big bucks =D

Damn, he's right, ain't he?
Yeah, but you'd probably be awarded a copy of the game w/o SecureRom or maybe about $10 when the class action suit is settled. Class action suits hurt the company being filed against, but really do not do the consumer justice. The lawyers will be the real winners here. Anyone remember the class action suit against Netflix for the "1-day delivery"?

1826.9.2008 13:36

Down with EA if they don't learn form this disaster rather quickly then my already negative opinion of them will reach a new low. I'm quite sure many other people feel the same. EA really shot themselves in the foot with this one and if they continue on with business as usual they deserve all the bad press, poor sales numbers, falling stock prices, ect...


Well said. This is a great day in leading to the demise of DRM.
EA is getting what it deserves. First thousands of user complaints, now this. How sweet it is !!!!

1926.9.2008 14:35

Originally posted by redux79:
This has to be one of the best examples of why drm doesn't work.
But it does work....if you intend to lose money due to piracy, piss off a lot of people, and then have to clean the poop off yourself..

2026.9.2008 17:50

damn.. i just bought spore a few weeks ago because I liked the game so much...

no matter all the BS EA pulls for some reason I end up buying something tied in with EA regardless if it console or pc....

oh well

2126.9.2008 21:02

Busted!

2227.9.2008 10:38

Why doesn't it say on the packaging or manual that it permanently installs SecurROM DRM? Surely thats a breach of our T&Cs & our rights as a consumer.

I thought the protection on BioShock (max installs of 5) was bad for us gamers, but all of this just plays into the hands of hackers who come to savour of gamers that have been treated for contempt already. I DARE EA or anyone else to try this trick again.

How about they re-release the game on Steam with all of the draconian protection took completely out?

2327.9.2008 19:47

Originally posted by champman:
How about they re-release the game on Steam with all of the draconian protection took completely out?
That would make sense, but that is not what EA would want to do. We, the consumers, have complained to them about the DRM, but they are blind (and evidently deaf too), because there have been no significant changes in the DRM. The best thing to do is not purchase any games with this DRM, AND keep voicing it anywhere you can. Tell your friends and family, post it on forums, complain to EA, and complain to any consumer rights group that you can find that may deal with this kind of thing. Corporations don't like for the truth to be exposed highlighting how little they care for their customers.

2428.9.2008 6:07
13thHouR
Inactive

Originally posted by champman:
Why doesn't it say on the packaging or manual that it permanently installs SecurROM DRM? Surely thats a breach of our T&Cs & our rights as a consumer.

I thought the protection on BioShock (max installs of 5) was bad for us gamers, but all of this just plays into the hands of hackers who come to savour of gamers that have been treated for contempt already. I DARE EA or anyone else to try this trick again.
If they printed this information on the box they would lose sales, the box looks exactly the same as other retail game for a reason.

It's called "Guilt By Omission"
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Sep 2008 @ 6:33

2528.9.2008 6:20

Well this is getting very intresting. I think this is a case that may set a precident in this regard for software that install seperate applications without the user knowing the full effects of it.

I feel that the best this is for it to be an option that is part of the software installation process like if you choose a custom installation.

2628.9.2008 12:31

Originally posted by borhan9:
Well this is getting very intresting. I think this is a case that may set a precident in this regard for software that install seperate applications without the user knowing the full effects of it.

I feel that the best this is for it to be an option that is part of the software installation process like if you choose a custom installation.
But unlike other softwares that give one a choice of installing certain parts and not others their CRM software cannot be a choice or NO ONE would install it. Would they? Think about it. Given the choice of installing an invasive, pervasive, uninstallable piece of software or not, what would you choose?

2728.9.2008 13:30
13thHouR
Inactive

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/malware

Quote:
mal·ware (māl'wâr') Pronunciation Key
n. Malicious computer software that interferes with normal computer functions or sends personal data about the user to unauthorized parties over the Internet.


@ borhan9

Even if you run the Sony SecuROM malware remove tool that can be found here >> ;

http://www.securom.com/support/SecuROM_Uninstaller.zip

it still leaves behind a whole load of junk without any option to fully remove the spyware from your pc/mac. A concerning part of the removal process is that it leaves behind files that are locked or completely hidden & due to Sony blocking Debuggers from working when SecuROM is active its hard to establish the full extent of the DRM’s infestation.


If you try to track any changes or debug even using a, "not so invasive" tool like Process Explorer from Mark Russinovich, your pc locks up completely.

Mark Russinovic is the man who highlighted and exposed Sony's last malware/Spyware DRM, their infamous RootKit .

After the uninstaller is ran, it then also tries to report back to sony.

One interesting note about SecuROM is that after you remove the game/s, software it came with, the Sony SecuROM DRM keeps phoning home and updating automatically.

@ leglessoz

The choice would be if you really wanted a said piece of software, you make sure that there is a crack available, so, you purchase the software, install it, then you remove all SecuROM, then move the cracked .exe to said location, ala - right click short cut/properties/find target

I emailed Sony SecuROM Support asking for an uninstaller that would “completely” remove their malware from my pc and this is the email, i received back;

Originally posted by Sony SecuROM Support:
Hello.

SecuROM does not install any malware, including any viruses, spyware or Trojans, nor does it enable any third-party to gain access to your computer.

SecuROM simply downloads and stores SecuROM license data and information to assist with disc authentication and activation. This data and information does not affect your computer system in any way.

The link below contains a tool which removes SecuROM:

http://www.securom.com/support/SecuROM_Uninstaller.zip

Please download it, extract the application file and double click it:


- A dialog box will appear. To start the SecuROM uninstallation, press the
<Yes> button.

Please understand that any application that uses SecuROM will rebuild these files and folders with future launches.


Best regards,
SecuROM Support Team

So i ran the uninstaller but my reg guard app logged a few Left behind changes whilst i was running Sony's malware removal tool.

And the after the removal of certain files it tried to dial home, and was blocked by my firewall, i emailed Sony back about this, and that i still required a tool that would removed the locked and secret hidden files left behind (Try Unlocker, it can be downloaded from FileHippo), it has now been over a week and still no support from Sony.


Some left behind garbage after the Sony App failed to remove their malware.

CreateRegKey \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\License information

ModifyFile C:\Documents and Settings\paul\Local Settings\Temp\drm_dyndata_7370012.dll

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\License information\datasecu

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\UserData\Backup\securom_v7_01_sec.bakModifyRegValue\REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\UserData\securom_v7_01.bak

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\UserData\securom_v7_01.dat

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\UserData\securom_v7_01.tmp

ModifyFile C:\Documents and Settings\paul\Application Data\SecuROM\UserData\securom_v7_01.tmp

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\Readme\Readme

ModifyFile C:\Documents and Settings\paul\Application Data\SecuROM\UserData\readme.txt

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\AppData

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\Microsoft\Direct3D\MostRecentApplication\Name

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\AppData ModifyRegValue\REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\Microsoft\Direct3D\MostRecentApplication\Name

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\UserData\Backup\securom_v7_01_sec.bak

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM\UserData\securom_v7_01.bak

ModifyRegValue \REGISTRY\USER\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\Microsoft\Direct3D\MostRecentApplication\Name


HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SecuROM

HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-682003330-2052111302-725345543-1004\Software\SecuROM
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Sep 2008 @ 15:50

2828.9.2008 20:12

LOL. You caught Sony in the act and they don't know what to say!

2928.9.2008 22:20

So -

Once you run the so-called securom uninstaller program and you find left over entries in the registry, are you saying it is possible to remove these entries using the unlocker software? It must be safe to do this? What about regedit, will it work?

Thanks!

3029.9.2008 3:42
13thHouR
Inactive

Originally posted by raceman94:
LOL. You caught Sony in the act and they don't know what to say!
Well the thing is in their email they made 2 points:

1. That no 3rd party would gain access to my PC.

2. SecuROM is not malware.

Both of these are so obviously lies its unbelievable, for starters Sony are the 3rd party with their malware as there is no licence information in any EULA on games regarding SecuROM and the programme automatically phones home and updates from Sony, sending information from my pc to a 3rd party. I did not purchase Sony MALWARE i purchased a game.

It also makes serious changes to your PC and blocks certain programs from working correctly, like debuggers, task managers, virtual drives, misidentifying normal, legally purchased and owned CD/DVD burning software, interfering with the user's firewall with it's phone home ability: Kaspersky internet security is disabled while using Sony's MALWARE remover if you use the reg guard feature and try to see the changes made, leaving your pc wide open to attacks for a long time as this also locks your PC down.











So SecuROM is MALWARE by definition.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/malware

Quote:
Quote:mal·ware (māl'wâr') Pronunciation Key
n. Malicious computer software that interferes with normal computer functions or sends personal data about the user to unauthorized parties over the Internet.

Originally posted by rulisky:
What about regedit, will it work?Thanks!
Of the files that are not hidden by unclear labelling or other stealth action on your computer and in the registry, i have found 2 visible entries that cannot be removed.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Sep 2008 @ 4:39

3130.9.2008 12:46

That shows how important it is that you have firewall that blocks all outgoing connections unless you allow it.

Firstly, I'm just a user like everyone here I recently found a nice app. I don't want any games/apps silently downloading in the background, so I used the free, easy to use 'Vista Firewall Control' app that takes up minimal resources. The free one is available here. Not many people use this app so its worth using fully for free if you have nothing at all to protect you.

When the Vista Firewall Control popups to ask if you would allow it access the net, just select Enable All. If you don't want a game/app to report back to its masters, then select Disable all. You only do this once so you can get on with your game.

Now no more background apps contacting other servers like Bonjour (spyware) did from Adobe & I only found out about it when it popped up using this app. At least with that you can stop it, but not in the conventional way.

321.10.2008 3:23
13thHouR
Inactive

Originally posted by champman:
That shows how important it is that you have firewall that blocks all outgoing connections unless you allow it.

Firstly, I'm just a user like everyone here I recently found a nice app. I don't want any games/apps silently downloading in the background, so I used the free, easy to use 'Vista Firewall Control' app that takes up minimal resources. The free one is available here. Not many people use this app so its worth using fully for free if you have nothing at all to protect you.

Now no more background apps contacting other servers like Bonjour (spyware) did from Adobe & I only found out about it when it popped up using this app. At least with that you can stop it, but not in the conventional way.
i couldn't agree more, but most average users can't be bothered with learning how to protect their PC all they want to do is use facebook & shop, the odd thing is they always lock their homes when they leave.

there is loads of free software here: http://www.filehippo.com/
there is also an update checker in the top left that will check your current ver. of apps on your pc and tell you if they need updating like flash, java, drivers ect, its a handy site.

BTW Bonjour is apple iTunes software. May i suggest a great little app to determin what .exe's are running on your system, its called:
Process Explorer, and advanced form of task manager.

Other useful apps are TCPView: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897437.aspx

And Autoruns: http://www.filehippo.com/download_autoruns/
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 01 Oct 2008 @ 3:27

331.10.2008 20:23

Thanks very much 13thHouR, I've downloaded those apps & check out whats running on my PC over the next few days. I didn't have any apps out of date, so at least things are ok there.

Originally posted by 13thHouR:
BTW Bonjour is apple iTunes software. May i suggest a great little app to determin what .exe's are running on your system, its called:
Process Explorer, and advanced form of task manager.
Thats weird because I only have Adobe Photoshop & Apple Quicktime player installed that could be the culprits but I'm 100% sure theres no iTunes as I don't have an iPod or any other MP3 player. If anyone wants to remove Bonjour/aka Bonjour mDNSResponder.exe - or find out more, check this article out.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 01 Oct 2008 @ 20:24

343.10.2008 8:07

Bonjour..Isn't that what allows my iPod to control the iTunes on my computer via the free remote app????

353.10.2008 9:17
darkpika
Inactive

You would think that these idiots would learn after the Sony rootkit music CD copy protection scandal of 2005? Neil Diamond had went back to work with Rick Rubin (American Recordings) because he said that the Sony rootkit scandal screwed him over big time. My laptop that I had in high school (Pentium 3 750 mhz, Windows 2000 Pro, Internet Explorer 6) got messed up by the Sony rootkit software and my stepdad, a civilian PC technician for the US Army, spent hours trying to fix it and ended up wiping the hard drive and reinstalling Windows. Now my friend's coworker's sister claims that her college's PC technician said that Spore's SecuROM DRM had caused her laptop to freeze up whenever she tries to start any other program then IE7, Firefox, or Opera for Windows. Thank God that she backed up her work on her USB flash drive and took her factory reinstall image CDs with her.
Ben

363.10.2008 20:42

Just to update/clarify people on the patch where they changed the EULA terms amongst other stuff - they should keep it separate. But this is what I also found out on the net:-

Quote:
"Spore latest patch lets you install it on 5 separate PCs. EA let you install it 3 times, then 2 times only on request. Afterwards, you can call EA to get a reset for installing another copy. A reset means you get 1 install back. So to get 5 you need to install it 3 times, then call EA 2 times to get another install.

A install means a standalone install, 5 PCs at same time can be used. But when one of your 5 PCs is messed up in some way, and you need a new install you have a problem. You then need to explain EA why you need another one."
Not the way to go for EA to address this problem. They still don't get it & this 'fix' is very inconvenient. Will they still be there to phone in 5 years time when you want to go back to it like you can most games. So yes, its just like a rental that will last most people on average about 2-3 years of typical uninstalls before binning it or buying another - dream on.

3728.10.2008 21:49

DRM is so anti-consumer.

Anyway, people need to realize that whether by accident or intent (probably the latter), any mention of the SecuROM software is absent from the End-User License Agreement (EULA)... which means you are not violating the License Agreement for use of the software by breaking the SecuROM program.

Just a thought...

3829.10.2008 17:12

That's pretty funny... I did read A LOT of complaints about how the 3 installs were messing people up immediately, but I also read you could call and get some more. But who wants to do that? Not me.


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