EA Downplays Spore’s DRM Triggered Piracy Record

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Spore, love it or loathe it, Will Wright’s new game has stayed in the news in the way his previous games have never managed. The game could also bring about big changes in both DRM and copyright law, as the debate heats up over it’s DRM. While EA puts a brave face on things, as a class action suit is filed.

spore piracyWhen last we reported on Spore (a little more than two weeks ago), it had been at the top of the Pirate Bay’s download list for a week. Even now it is still in the top 15 (14th at time of writing). According to our most recent statistics, it would be fair estimation to say that probably close to 1 million copies have been downloaded on BitTorrent now.

EA has downplayed this, naturally. In comments to video game developer site Gamasutra, EA’s Mariam Sughayer said “Stepping aside from the whole issue of DRM, people need to recognize that every BitTorrent download doesn’t represent a successful copy of a game, let alone a lost sale. We’ve talked to people that made several unsuccessful attempts to download the game and ended up with incomplete, slow, buggy or unusable code. In one case, a file identified as Spore contained a virus. To say that every download represents a successful copy of the game –- or that there’s been more than 500K copies downloaded — that’s just not true.”

Of course, it should be pointed out that when TorrentFreak computed the download figures previously, the basis was only a few torrents, all known to be working and virus free, and similarly with figure earlier. TorrentFreak is not new at this, and we know how to tell the difference between an incomplete, a virused, buggy, or even encrypted with a password, and one that would work if downloaded. To attempt to spin it otherwise is rude and condescending, and shows how hard EA is attempting to salvage the reputation of itself, and Spore.

When we suggested a few weeks ago that the DRM was the cause of the high rate of downloads, we said it only hurt legitimate purchasers (and those that steal it) and we are not alone. A class action lawsuit was filed in northern California on September 22nd, targeting EA for the use of SecuROM. The lawsuit asks for damages based on the secret installation of a program, which can adversely affect your system, without telling you. It’s basically the Sony Rootkit debate again.

The lawyer that filed this case, Alan Himmelfarb, told TorrentFreak “People have an absolute right to control what does and what does not get put onto their computers. When companies resort to secret, undisclosed installations – for whatever purpose – they cross a line. Our lawsuit is the result in this case. First there was Sony with its Rootkit. Then there was Ubisoft with Starforce. Now we have EA with SecuROM. In each case, corporate executives failed to see anything wrong with installing a secret, uninstallable, administrative level program directly into the heart of the command center of the computer, so that they could control how you use your computer. So that they could decide what programs you could run, and what hardware you could have installed. All without asking. All without any attempt to obtain your consent. It is simply wrong, and we will continue to bring similar actions against any company that acts as if they obtain ownership rights to a consumer’s computer simply because someone plays their game or listens to their music.”

Thanks to DRM, Spore may well be the most downloaded game of all time, if not now, then in the next month. However, EA sees the facts a bit differently. On their support page dealing with DRM and Spore, they describe why they went with SecuROM

Q: Why are Maxis and EA implementing this new authentication process?
A: This solution serves to protect our software from piracy.

Yeah, it’s worked REALLY well.


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