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PC Games (Games) Security Entertainment Games Your Rights Online

EA Releases DRM License Deactivation Tool 226

Dr_Barnowl writes "Electronic Arts has posted a SecuROM de-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools. This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM." I'm sure EA's hand was forced in part by the FTC's recent warning against deceptive DRM practices. Hal Halpin of the Entertainment Consumers Association commented further on the issue, suggesting to developers that such measures need to be displayed on game boxes, and that standardization of EULAs could be next on the list.
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EA Releases DRM License Deactivation Tool

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  • by goltzc ( 1284524 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:12PM (#27407007)
    I wonder how many companies that have spent a lot of money on DRM schemes are publicly traded. Investing in DRM sure seems like a proactive (yet pointless) way of making sure your investors believe that you are protecting your sales.

    Perception of money saved > Actual money saved
  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:15PM (#27407039)
    Many of EA's games can only be installed three times on different computers (based on hardware ID codes)--and then, even if you never gave away your CD key or anything else, you don't get to install them ANYWHERE. Serious problem if you get three new computers! This tool lets you de-authorize a computer, saying "I don't want to play the game on THIS computer any more. Credit me with the ability to install it on a new place again." Of course that doesn't help if your hard drive dies; that one ability to install it dies with your drive, and you can't take it back. The DRM is still very present.
  • Re:One day.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:16PM (#27407055) Journal

    and just released a tool to retroactively remove DRM from older games.

    No they didn't. In essence, they released a tool to reset your "activated" flag from TRUE to FALSE.

    So when you try to install and activate on a second machine, you can -- as long as you have unactivated on the first machine. This is nice, since it allows for continuance of the doctrine of first sale. This is not nice, as it still leaves the DRM.

    All this does is make their DRM adhere to certain consumer protection laws.

    Also note that they have not committed to release Sims 3 DRM-free; instead, they have vowed not to use the broken DRM tool they have been using up til now.

  • Re:Standardized EULA (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:23PM (#27407179)

    As it stands now, you have no rights...

    Only if the EULA is upheld, that is. The typical EULA should be declared null and void by any reasonable court, for several reasons (contract of adhesion, doctrine of first sale, etc.).

  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:54PM (#27407721) Homepage Journal

    I uninstalled Spore a few weeks ago and just tried to reclaim the activation with EA's new tool. All I get is this message:

    Important Message!

    There is a problem with verifying ownership of your game. Please verify your game registration code and reinstall your game."

    What the hell does that mean? I have to install the game again? So do I run the deauth tool while it's still installed? And then uninstall it again?

    Screw this. If my game ceases to work I'll just pirate it.

  • You are wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:58PM (#27407763) Homepage Journal

    But stealing a copy of something because you don't like the DRM is theft. Plain and simple.

    Legally speaking, it is not theft. Copyright infringement is an entirely different legal concept than theft. So you are wrong.

    Morally speaking, you are wrong too. Theft deprives the owner of use, whereas copyright infringement does not. So it is not morally similar to theft (it might still be wrong of course, just as murder is wrong even though it is not theft, but this does not make it the same thing as theft).

    I know you think I am splitting semantic hairs. Of course, I disagree. I think your sloppy use of language obscures the truth and frustrates our efforts at thinking clearly about this issue. It is not "plain and simple," and your misguided attempts at making it so are not helpful.

    The issue is not one of entitlement, production, or theft...but one of boundaries. One person's interest in securing the profitability of a work is directly conflicting with someone else's interest in being able to make full use of the (hardware AND software) resources available to them. Perhaps my natural desire to play a game for free should not supersede your "right" (sic) to ensure that every copy of your work is paid for. But, conversely, neither does your desire to get paid justify forcefully taking control of my computer (and the computers of every person in the world) away.

    So, we need to work out these boundaries. In order to work them out fairly, we need to understand them in exacting detail. Thus, we must avoid oversimplifications like yours.

  • by c0d3g33k ( 102699 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @06:00PM (#27408659)

    Most people would find this reasonable.

    Nope. It's just as damned inconvenient and braindead as other schemes that artificially induce limitations that aren't there to begin with. One instance at a time is just as stupid as any other limitation.


    Limited software in question is installed on 3 computers: Workstation at the office, laptop and home workstation.

    Scenario 1: Working on project at office workstation. Suddenly called to important meeting with important executive to deal with an important issue. Grab laptop, head off to meeting - no time to logoff, generate new key, whatever. Productive discussion ensues. Executive asks for a quick review of discussion concepts using expensive software he paid for. Activate laptop, start software. Bzzzt! Didn't generate stupid license key, so no efficient conclusion to discussion. Executive leaves meeting with mandate to find new tool ASAP without stupid licensing scheme.

    Scenario 2: Good week at office. Project done, system deployed. Vacation next week. No need to generate key - won't need it. As vacation starts - emergency phone call to fix unforeseen issue. Bzzt! Sorry - can't use home system to fix problem. Long drive into office causes family to miss plane, vacation ruined, divorce ensues. Solemn vow never to use stupid software again.

    Scenario 3: Good week at office. Project done, system deployed. Generate key for laptop just in case - not stupid like scenario 2 guy. Sunday morning - emergency call. No problem - just fire up laptop, install key, fix problem. Bzzzt! Hard drive failure - laptop won't boot. Home system can't use exclusive key made for laptop. Stupid licensing scheme cursed forever, new tool found.

    The problem with schemes that impose limitations is that they are ... limiting, and at some point those limitations will cause a problem that shouldn't have been one.

    Only human beings would invent technology that removes limitations (like cost-free digital reproduction that sounded like Utopia in the sci-fi novels ... and the marketing copy) then turn around and impose artificial limitations to nullify the benefit that the new tech offered.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @06:11PM (#27408781) Journal
    PennyArcade's game phones home and limits the number of installs. Unless they've changed the rules recently, it is not DRM-free. This is why I didn't buy it (and, no, I didn't pirate it either; if it's not worth buying, it's not worth pirating either).
  • Re:Cool... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MemoryDragon ( 544441 ) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @03:29AM (#27413035)

    Age of Reason, followed by Age of Stupidity and Laywers...

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson