EA and BioWare are employing SecuROM for the PC release of Mass Effect, a copy protection scheme you may recall from its universally loathed inclusion in 2K's BioShock. The Mass Effect SecuROM annoyance factor may be much more extreme, as the game requires that the owner authenticate the copy every ten days, meaning that an internet connection is required to play the game from the get-go and until eternity. In other words, if you paid for your copy of Mass Effect, expect to remind EA's authentication servers every week and a half that you aren't stealing it.
The official Mass Effect FAQ explains it all.
For instance, you can install your copy of Mass Effect on three separate machines, but all must be internet enabled if you expect to play the game you paid for, as SecuROM will check every time you run MassEffect.exe. This sort of overprotection is nothing new, as "Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect all use SecuROM in some manner" says the FAQ.
Concerned? Pssh! Don't be! The Mass Effect PC FAQ says EA Support is ready for a beating.
EA is ready and we are confident there will be no server problems. EA has assured us that they have their authorization systems and customer support staff in place and ready for the launch of Mass Effect for PC. Anyone having issues with getting the game activated will be able to contact EA Support and get their problem resolved.
Spore is similarly planned to take advantage of the SecuROM copy protection system, one that we're sure is going to eliminate every illegitimate copy of the game from appearing on torrent trackers for at least 48 hours. Take that, piracy! RIP! Owned! Etc!