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back to article Woman sues EA over 'secret' Spore DRM

Electronic Arts may have tried to appease customers angered by slackening the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions in Spore – but the game publisher's troubles over its use may have just begun. On Monday, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California on behalf of Melissa Thomas of Maryland and …

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Pirate

I like how game makers think they can get away with this

If Microsoft couldn't get away with this kind of copy protection in its Office products and other lines, how could EA get away with it on a game?

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Alert

System Restore?

I should have asked this in my last post...

Would restoring to a previous restore point undo the installation of this thing? I've had pretty good success removing common spyware in this manner, assuming I have an in-tact restore point to work from.

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Bronze badge

Who didnt

See this one coming.

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Coat

Secret Spore?

How long will the trial last?

9 months?

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Coat

Love the "PDF warning"

....this should become required for all sites. I loathe clicking on a PDF and having to go make a cup of coffee while my (admittedly slow) computer chokes over loading Acrobat...

Mine's the one with the 1MB simms in the pocket.

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Alien

? a Quest I On.

"This End User License Agreement (“License”) is an agreement between you and Electronic Arts Inc. ("EA"). This License governs your use of this software and all related documentation, and updates and upgrades that replace or supplement the software and are not distributed with a separate license (collectively, the "Software").

By installing or using the Software, you consent to be bound by this License. If you do not agree to the terms of this License, then do not install or use the Software. Section 4 below describes the data EA may use to provide services and support to you in connection with the Software. If you do not agree to this use of data, do not install or use the Software. IF YOU INSTALL the Software, the terms and conditions of this License are fully accepted by you." .... http://regmedia.co.uk/2008/09/25/sporeeula.pdf

Austin,

Surely those first two paragraphs of the EULA Clearly Warn of Agreement to Electronic ArtistICQ License? ...... Easily Morphed/MMORPGdD with MODifed DoDGI Militant Mutating Input ...... an Evolving and Growing Situation ....... For In the Beginning v2.0 ..... Creation's Encore with Creation Encores.

Well, what else can you XXXXPect whenever Global Operating Devices Connect and Lock Dock Connections for Directions and Instruction in HotXXXXCold Fusion ....... AImagical Mystery Turing Singularity......... in NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActivity.

Is there any Doubt? And Why and Where would it be Harboured and Who would Store it and for What Purpose Fit for the Future?

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Anonymous Coward

Ah... wonderful DRM again.

I remember dealing with SecuROM with Bioshock. That really urked me when I realized that it installed that on my PC.

Luckily, there was a way to remove SecuROM from my computer... But I never ended up reinstalling Bioshock (HD crash and then lost CD key... plus it barley run in the first place)

Keep the DRM on the CD/online. And for f**ks sake, tell me on the box if I am required to install this rubbish.

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Silver badge

Plain text warning

Why do we need a PDF warning? I could understand a Microsoft Word Macro Virus Warning or a Flash Trojan warning, but PDF? I know there have been problems with Adobe's viewer, but there are plenty of better viewers available for free.

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Coat

Only in America?

I knew as soon as I read the headline that this would be happening in the US.

Much as I greatly admire the US belief in the power of the law, I do wonder whether this is a useful expenditure of the court's time. IT IS ONLY A COMPUTER GAME AFTER ALL!

Good grief.

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and in the UK

the game doesn't even bloody run ... when i contacted their support they told me a 65k text file was too large for their email filters. speaks volumes for EA

Never again.

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Dam
Thumb Up

YES

Hope EA gets the shaft for these extremely borderline practices!

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Pirate

Good

It took me best part of a day to work out how to unravel SecuROM from a friend's PC after one of their kids had installed sumsuch twaddle, and I can't even post instructions online for fear of beind DMCA'd and having my domains snatched.

These copyright mobsters need a taste of their own medicine. I stopped using warez back in 1993 because of the ethics, not the DRM. There will allways be ways to nick software so why bother with crap like this.

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Paris Hilton

Really Stupid

As usual, it's the average consumer who's being targeted here.

A quick Google search using 'is spore cracked' gives thousands of hits, some of which look like links to torrents for cracked copies of the game so it would seem that all the expensive DRM that publishers are using isn't worth a damn and only serves to piss off people who have bought their product.

Frankly if I was into games (and Spore looks fun) I'd be downloading a cracked copy right after I bought it just to prevent this DRM crap clogging up my PC so here's a radical thought, why not treat customers as people you value instead of treating them like thieves?

It's going to get to the point where you have to give a DNA sample before you can boot your PC if this all carries on.

Paris, because she could sample my DNA any time (did I really need to explain that?)

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Anonymous Coward

Damages?

Although I completely agree that EA's behaviour was completely unjust I don't understand what monetary damages there are other than the purchase price of the game. Even that is not lost, you still have the game. They should be awarded purchase price of the game (maybe) and EA should be forced to post a "patch" that removes all DRM whilst leaving the game in perfect working order.

Serves them right from buying from EA anyway, sleep with a whore in Africa and you will also be left with "software" permanently part of your "portfolio", its called HIV.

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No no no!!

"The lawsuit asks the judge to ... award the plaintiffs the purchase price of Spore plus damages"

No no no!! They should be asking for a big red box, at least 10cm² to be on the front cover of the physical box, and there should be a huge warning that you have to tick a little box agreeing to on digital downloads saying that this software installs "malware" and you realise that you can only install the game five times. But ask that this be done not only on Spore, but ALL games that use "malware" copy protection.

Refunds wont hurt EA that much, but warning customers off will.

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NT
Thumb Up

Good luck to them

Good. I wish the plaintiffs luck. If this action goes some way towards reminding the big companies that their customers are innocent until proven guilty, then it'll be a good thing.

This pointless love affair with DRM is what's going to finally kill off the PC games industry, not piracy. If nothing else, it'll kill it a damn sight faster than piracy will. Piracy may do damage, but why do publishers try so very hard to alienate the only people who'd otherwise offset the inevitable piracy losses: the honest customers who want to support game developers?

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Paris Hilton

First Thought...

Was how silly the plaintiff is for filing this, but then as I read down the article and saw that there was no mention of SecuROM in the EULA, my second thought was, EA are boned.

It is kind of representative of the US culture of suing for every little thing.

Shoulda just done what most people did are warez the darn game. I found that it completely looses it's appeal around the 2nd time through anyway.

Paris because she lost her appeal before even the first time through.

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Anonymous Coward

Irony

The irony is not lost on me that you have trouble with the DRM only if you BUY the game! Pirates will have a cracked version anyhoo. It is like that annoying "you wouldn't steal a handbag" clip on DVDs which you often can't skip. I bought it you idiots don't put me off buying more by forcing me to watch these adverts and 10mins of text, in 10 languages I can't read, about viewing on oil rigs! I don't have an oil rig either.

I am wary of DRM products. I will check if other people have problems and simply won't buy if they do. Lost sales from someone who would have paid not fired up uTorrent. I can't be the only one.

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Silver badge

Re: Love the "PDF warning"

Have a Google for something called Foxit. Muuuuuch faster. :-)

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Pirate

And so they danced...

Just stop buying games, pirate them insted!

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*sigh* When will they learn?

It never ceases to amaze me that the software, music and movie industries never realise that copy protection and DRM only inconvenience their legitimate customers. Every copy protection method and DRM gets broken or worked around, and the pirates never even see it. They don't see the warnings, either, just the content.

The software industry has had decades to learn this; no matter how clever the DRM programmers are, there seem to be a huge number of very clever people out there with too much free time on their hands who make it their mission to break the protection.

I remember when Robocop 3 came out for the Amiga, the publishers claimed it was "uncopyable". It took something like a day for the pirate copy to spread.

I've not looked myself, but i've heard that DRM-free pirate copies of Spore are relatively easy to come across.

So all this effort, all this legal trouble, all this customer discontent, for a system which has proved a total waste of time and who only their paying customers have to deal with.

Nice one EA. Well done.

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Paris Hilton

People try to get us down

"torrents for cracked copies of the game" - but you have to wonder if these cracked copies have their own, even-more-nefarious applications that run in the background, sending your information off to Satan-knows-where. But then again I imagine a piracy group that loads its wares with nefariousness would quickly get a bad rep, and would be kneecapped by other pirates. It will have come to a pretty pass when piracy groups are more concerned about keeping the customer happy than bona fide software publishers.

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@AC, searching for "is Spore cracked"

Yep, cracked and up on all the usual suspect sites THE DAY BEFORE RELEASE. So it didn't even stop 0-day "piracy", and the only people being hurt are those who actually paid money for it. Those who torrented it have paid nothing, _and_ have a better product which they can install as many times as they like, on as many machines as they like. That really showed those pirates, didn't it?

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lost a customer

I was going to purchase this game, but all these reports i'm seeing over the interweb have totally put me off, i'm thinking of tracking down a pirated copy just so i don't get a stealth installation of software i can't uninstall witout a wipe of the hard drive.

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EA

Shorter than Phorm. Other differences?

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Alert

SecuROM uninstall app on their site!

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

on the following page:

http://www.securom.com/support_faq.asp

Has anyone tried this?

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Ash
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@AC (Really Stupid)

"It's going to get to the point where you have to give a DNA sample before you can boot your PC if this all carries on."

Jesus Christ, don't give them ideas! What the hell are you trying to accomplish?!

As for PDF warning and Adobe Reader being a 30MB bloatfest, try Foxit reader. We've just rolled it out over the site and so far absolutely EVERYBODY is in love with ICT Support for it. Now all we need to do is get a refund for that Office 2007 Site License...

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A bit of perspective here...

...many games install system software (mostly things like codecs) that aren't removed when the game is uninstalled, because the uninstaller _can't_ know if any other game is using them (just like the Spore uninstaller can't know if you need the Securom drivers for Bioshock). Obnoxious copy protection is over 20 years old now (who remembers lenslock?) so let's stop pretending it's new and/or a temporary aberration that will go away if we all hold hands and sing Kum Ba Yah at the publishers.

Is Securom evil? No, no more than Starforce. (Well, _slightly_ evil because if I've used Process Explorer at all I have to reboot before playing securom games). Does it clog up your PC? Nope.

Is this treating customers like criminals? No more than being asked for ID on the way into a club. Is the way EA are using the DRM over-the-top and paranoid? Oh yes. Are most publishers of mainstream games (gotta love my bet-hedging there :D) likely to move away from at least one form of DRM? Oh no...

About all we can do is find a _mutually_ acceptable solution. There is _ZERO_ chance of everyone suddenly coming round to the no-DRM point of view, especially when they see all the piracy. (And yes we all know only a tiny fraction of pirated copies would otherwise translate into sales, but how would _you_ feel about getting ripped off in that situation?)

I think I may have said this before, but I think Steam may be the way forward. The actual copy protection on Steam is laughably bad, but what it _can_ do is pre-launch-day control, where the physical data on the disk (or on the drive via direct download) is encrypted, and the decryption keys only released at launch day. I have a theory that set of people keen enough to download the game before it's released have a higher proportion of people who would buy the game instead.

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Stop

SecureRom

>Frankly if I was into games (and Spore looks fun) I'd be downloading a cracked copy right after I bought it just to prevent this DRM crap clogging up my PC<

If you install the purchased game, you install SecureRom, and if you install the pirate version you support terrorists and will need to be locked up for 42 days.

Your call.

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Flame

Sony lies

No malware eh? Then why seek the drive back and fourth rapidly until the drive dies? And corrupting the boot sector on my x64 gaming rig? It won't even install on the rig until I twiddled with the installation anyway.

Flame, because Bioshock caused some PCs to burst into flames last year, and it has SecuROM. Plus, it kills optical drives.

I wish they'd bring back the dead vulture icon tho. Because that makes a better indication for PC killers like SecuROM.

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Bronze badge

Sony?

So it seems like SecuROM was developed by Sony. One would think they learned the lesson about DRM. If they did, they are obviously misleading their customers (game vendors who use the technology on their own peril); if they did not ... what else will it take?

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copy protection on games NEVER works

I have only seen one game hitch was not cracked imidatley and that cos the game was sooo bad that noboady bothwered to copy it

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Slight untruth from DRM maker

"This data and information does not affect your computer system in any way" should read

"Unless you use certain types of software we think are suspicious, in which case the program you've just shelled out 40 quid for will not run, unless you remove all traces it from your PC, or your DVD drive is a common one, but not supported by us, in which case we'lll ask you to delve in to the registry and device manager to fiddle about with your system, in which case we may, if we feel like it, let you run the program you bought.

We realise that you could download a cracked version that doesn't require all this arsing about in far less time, but that doesn't match our business model of treating the customer as scum."

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Rob
Paris Hilton

The bigger problem here is always internal

Spore was available on torrents 2 weeks before it's official release in any territory.

It's always a game 'reviewer' or someone internal to the company that gets these things out into the wild before they should be. From there it's only a matter of hours before someone's cracked it.

I've bought it - i'm enjoying playing it and the DRM hasn't upset or bothered me. I'm convinced i'm like 99% of the rest of the game buying market.

The remainder of the game buying public are probably rightly justified in their outrage, afterall some people like their computers more locked down than others care. The remainder of people are pirates anyway and weren't going to buy the game in the first place. I bet a large percentage of people who pirate games are 'collectors' and very rarely install let alone play the games they rip off.

I'm sure if there was no DRM then the sales figures would be higher as the people moaning wouldn't have any reason to moan and would just buy the game. Good honest people will always be good honest people, that's just the way it goes.

Then again, they say you can't con a con man so maybe the games industry need to rethink things a little...

Paris because she MUST have made some of her own Sporn by now..

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Pirate

I feel old

'Cause, you know, back in the day, it used to be way sufficient to Dial-a-Pirate, Mix'n'Mojo, or just look up a Planet from a given side of the manual. I guess the same discussion has been held a million times, but game makers, just as the music industry, should see piracy as free advertisement. There are those people who never buy anything they can get for free, and you will never get rid of them. Then there are those who like to try before they buy, these benefit from piracy and are latent customers. And then there are those who just buy. Yet the more you hassle those who actually just plunked down for your product, the more incentive you give them to become part of one of the other groups. DRMd games that are nothing but trouble down the road are just as bad as CDs that do not play on your computer.

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It`s about time

For the software companies to get their fingers burned on DRMs. And the more it hurts, the better.

And to those who think "it`s just a game, why should we care?" - no, it isn`t just a game! It`s the fight about who controls your equipment and your data.

DRMs never had anything to do with piracy - their sole purpose was to achieve a de-facto control of the user-end information processing and data. Once you control this you can easily turn any discrete "sale" into a perpetuity by charging a rental fee for it (imagine what it will do to your share price + you never need to bother making a good product anymore, any mediocre crap will make you a fortune, just lure some idiot to buy it once). And if the user objects - you disable his software and his computer until he comes to his senses and starts paying you again. And if the user will try to use a competitor's product you do that again until the stupid schmuck knows better.

They always hoped that if they quietly make the DRMs ubiquitous they will then be able to enshrine these new "rights" in law claiming that it's become the accepted practice.

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AC
Alert

since a victory is guaranteed

can we all buy a copy now and be included in the class action suit or is it only for people who have bought it up until the suit was filed ?

what about us bums in the UK, i havent bought it yet but i will do if cash monies will come back ?

im upset you havent included basic advice/instructions on how to get in on the act of making free cash monies el reg !!

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Does not install Malware

Its nice to see SecuROM's response tells the user the software doesn't install Malware....probably because the software IS the malware!.

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Stop

Pirates

The DRM isn't meant to protect against the commercial pirate, it's to prevent the casual sharing of titles among customers who have paid the ligitimate price.

As always, the decent law abiding citizen gets shafted in the ass again and again but being decent folk they just shrug and get on with it and the BASTARDS know and indeed bank on it.

Now if this is correct and Spore was ripped so soon after release, I have no reason to doubt thge validity of that statement, then surely someone at EA and/or SecuROM must see this and think WTF are we doing this shit ain't working. The answer is they do and they dont give a flying fuck. Maybe, just maybe this suit will bring the whole DRM fiasco in to the limelight and some folks will go to jail, not for criminal any action but for being fucking stupid, arrogant sons-of-bitches.

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Dam
Pirate

Re: Really Stupid

Actually, Spore was available on newsgroups *before* it actually hit the stores and without the slightest hint of inconvenience.

It's the legit customer that takes the shaft with DRM, as usual.

Regarding your comment here:

"Frankly if I was into games (and Spore looks fun) I'd be downloading a cracked copy right after I bought it just to prevent this DRM crap clogging up my PC so here's a radical thought, why not treat customers as people you value instead of treating them like thieves?"

*wink wink*

Take a wild guess at what I might or might not have done ;)

And with Oblivion, and with Baldur's Gate, and with most of my games with a CD check...

And with my Wii games because I'm not very careful with my disks...

And with my PSP games because loading times from UMDs are just annoying, thus using ISOs is much faster...

In the end however it makes me wonder:

Why do I bother buying it if I still have to download a cracked version to enjoy it properly ?

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Coat

SecuROM ain't all that...

SecuROM is not a 'state of the art' copy protection system. There are applications in the wild that can rip it away from a game in mere seconds, and they're not new - They've been around for a couple of years now. That leaves us questioning why EA thought they'd use it - I suspect a licensing deal of some kind with an enforceable contract.

On the other hand, I installed Spore GE along with SecuROM (unsuspectingly) and I have to say that it seems to have absolutely no impact on the game, my PC or my internet connectivity. All seems well. (same with BioShock too), so I'm not worried about it....

..On the other (third) hand, I have *major* gripes with the game content itself - this simply IS NOT THE GAME we were shown in earlier demos and videos, but a rather poor collection of mini-games linked by a tenuous macro-model. Spore was set to revolutionise gaming, and now is nothing more than a joke, destined to go down in gaming history as one of the greatest flops of all time.

I will be burying mind out in the Nevada Desert alonside all those copys of Atari's ET - The Game.

Mine is the one with the parrot on the shoulder.

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Pirate

You wouldn't steal a handbag...

The irony again is that if you have stolen a handbag, sorry, obtained a pirate DvD or download, those ads are gone.

P.S. Dead vulture back please?

P.P.S. Whilst I don't really care about linux one wy or another, could we have a different penguin? The gormless, souless eyes of the current one are a bit too creepy.

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Flame

This is why......

.......they will never selll a game of CD with DRM to me. Not because I have cracked/downloaded copies, but because I refuse to allow any DRM infested crud on MY machine. (Please note Mr software exec this machine is MINE... not yours) How many other sales have they lost for the same reason? Maybe one day they will realize that they are themselves responsible for depressing sales. In this case, who could blame anyone for installing a cracked copy to avoid the secret Malware installation? I choose what installs on my machine... not some overpaid parasite in a suit sitting in an office somewhere. I know several people who having seen this scenario unfold have said they will be dubious about buying EA releases in the futrure... no matter how "good" they seem.

Heres a novel idea.... why not release some compelling content without the DRM malware at a reasonable price? Everytime I see these cretins whining about the over priced crud staying on the shelves I wonder if they ever heard of market forces? People wont buy at a price point that they think is above and beyond what the product is worth. I think a lot of consumers are canny and realise that when they buy DRM'd crippleware, they are actually paying for the control that is inflicted on them.

Its high time companies like EA realised they have no automatic right to exist, but rely on the goodwill of a customer base for their continuation... so... and this is just a crazy idea... how about you stop reaming your life-blood? No doubt if EA folded tomorrow they would blame piracy rather than considering that they have probably lost a huge amount of customer goodwill and sales because of this latest DRM idiocy.

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Good stuff

They had this coming - hope they lose.

It's stating the obvious I know, but EA are just encouraging a whole bunch of people to pirate a game, people who would normally pay for it. How does it deter or prevent a real games pirate exactly?

It clearly encouarges extra piracy, any idiot can see this.

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Not surprised at Sony's involvement

Given their penchant for deeply invasive DRM!

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Paris Hilton

Securom

Securom has been about for ages (some time around 98) as I remember

The 2 things I objected to where

1: Sony basically decided where deciding what was allowed to run on my machine (it got upset if debuggers of almost any form where present), and being a developer at the time it was a pain in the arse.

2: The performance hit the game took because almost every API call had to be decrypted through the Securom wrapper

3: I had a mixture of IDE and SCSI optical drives which Sony decided where a sign of neferious activity, I had to disconnect the SCSI devices to play a fucking game

In the end I ended up writing a decryptor to unwrap Securom titles just so as I could play the fucking things without Sony deciding that I should buy another machine.

I was happy enough with the DRM on HL2 as Valve at no point tried to dictate what I was allowed to have installed in my machine.

@ Tony Paulazzo

What ? Scarcasm, Irony or clueless I don't know, any chance of some clarification ?

AC cos I don't want Sony knocking on my door despite not looking @ Securom for the last 4 years

Paris, cos she sucks too

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Happy

Sony BMG Rootkit ?

Surprisingly little pickup on the Sony Malware front, everybody got short memories ?

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re: Damages?

Well you may as well ask why the wholesale price of an MP3 copy isn't all that is demanded in damages for copyright infringement for non-commercial purposes.

Not 20,000 times that.

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Flame

What they don't get

If they install something that patches the operating system, whether or not it has any side-effects now, it may be catastrophic in the future. How can they guarantee that an upgrade from (say) XP SP2 with their patches, to (say) Windows 7 Lite SP 2, will succeed? The future product does not exist yet, and Microsoft might never have tested it against a computer that had had this DRM applied to it.. Even if MS had tested and refuses to start the upgrade because it's known to fail catastrophically, the cost of having to copy all user data and system settings off the PC, wipe the disk, re-install all software from scratch, copy the user data and settings back, could easily run to four figures. And there's surely a lawyer waiting.

Sony learned this lesson the expensive way. It seems some people just don't listen.

Personally I think that what they have done should not merely be cause for lawsuits. It should be cause for several years' imprisonment for the people who authorize mangling other companies' software on my computer without my well-informed permission. It's vandalism, just as surely as going round to a man's house and "tagging" his walls and windows is vandalism. But it's vandalism on a mass scale for financial gain. There will be millions of (mostly unknowing) victims.

Most of these victims will blame Microsoft when they get bitten. Micosoft will lose customers and what little reputation it has left to protect as a result. Has Microsoft considered suing?

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re: People try to get us down

Well, those torrents may have malware in them. However, we KNOW the legit version does, so a net benefit.

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