"The numbers are extraordinary," Garland says. "This is a very high level of torrent activity even for an immensely popular game title." Electronic Arts had hoped to limit users to installing the game only three times through its use of digital rights management software, or DRM. But not only have those constraints failed, says Garland, they may have inadvertently spurred the pirates on. (...)
For many users, that made the pirated version more appealing than the legitimate one. "By downloading this torrent, you are doing the right thing," wrote one user going by the name of "deathkitten" on the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. "You are letting [Electronic Arts] know that people won't stand for their ridiculously draconian 'DRM' viruses." (...)
Another user with the handle "dsmx" sounded more conflicted. "I feel bad about pirating this game I really wanted to buy it but EA put DRM on it and my policy is that any form of DRM means an instant not parting with money," he wrote. "When I pay for something I want to own it not rent it with EA deciding when I'm not allowed to play it anymore."
The copy protections on "Spore" were equally detested by a less piracy-prone crowd at Amazon.com. By Thursday evening, the game had received more than 2,100 reviews, nearly 2,000 of which had given it a rating of one star out of five. Most negative reviews--including messages titled "No way, no how, no DRM" and "DRM makes me a sad panda"--cited the game's restrictions as a sore spot. (...)
"PC games are massively pirated because you can pirate them," says Brad Wardell, chief executive of Plymouth, Mich.-based gaming company Stardock. Wardell argues that the driver for piracy is user-friendliness--not price. Instead of digital locks, Stardock requires users to use unique serial numbers which it monitors, in conjunction with IP addresses. "Our focus is on getting people who would buy our software to buy it," Wardell says, rather than trying to strong-arm people unlikely to pay for the products into become paying customers.
DRM only limits the ability of consumers who wouldn't typically pirate media to make copies or share it with friends and family, agrees Big Champagne's Garland. But because encryption is so easily broken by savvier--and more morally flexible--users, it does little to stop the flood of intellectual property pirated over the Internet, he contends. "DRM can encourage the best customers to behave slightly better," he says. "It will never address the masses of non-customers downloading your product."
I’ve not bought the game but from what I gather Spore requires online activation and after three activations you have to phone EA and attempt to get activations added (technical note - the system in use is called SecuROM PA). The idea is that this mechanism, combined with the requirement to have the disc in the drive while playing the game (technical note - SecuROM v7), makes it difficult to pirate the game. Ironically, the game was leaked several days before the official released date and a quick search seems to indicate that pirated copies, along with mechanisms for bypassing the copy protection mechanisms, are freely available on the Internet. So it seems that the copy protection schemes only inconveniences legitimate customers.
Adenda: EA Hit with Class Action Lawsuit over Spore DRM