DRM is and always has been a big deal for people who knew about it, but as far as the average user was concerned, most really never got up close and personal with DRM. Yes, it was there, but under the surface and the hassle factor of the DRM wasn't enough to overcome the activation energy of doing something about it. So people live with their music tied to certain hardware and software players and their games being tied to CD keys and discs.
But Spore changed all that. First, EA made the DRM far more draconian than it needed to be. Three activations and you're out and one account per CD key (something that EA seems to have misled customers about initially) is really just squezing the buyer too much. These are limitations that even basic users can hit up against pretty quickly so it's something that every buyer should care about.
It also seems that the anti-DRM movement has latched onto Spore as a symbol of DRM and evil and has chosen to use it as an example to educate users about the dangers of DRM and how DRM-ladened products are defective by design.
Note: I'm not in any way condoning piracy. I'm a firm believer in paying for what you want and in my opinion if you don't like the DRM, forget about the game. Looting a free copy isn't justified.
Spore rising to the top of the pirated charts isn't good for EA, isn't good for the future of Will Wright games, and isn't good for PC gaming industry as a whole. I've personally seen how quickly people embrace the idea of something for nothing. With games it starts off at the "having to have this CD in the drive is a pain, I wonder if there's some way around that?" After a couple of minutes using Google that's changed to "hey, I don't need the CD after all!". Problem is, people don't stop there, and after a few more minutes of Googling it's become "hey, I need never buy another game!" The ripped off have become the rippers off. The truth is that given the current state of the Internet, people need never pay for any digital content ever again.
Note: Again, I'm not in any way condoning piracy. I'm just stating a fact.
What keeps people in line is a sense of honesty and fair play, and an unconscious incompetence about what's available for nothing. Not only has the DRM in Spore put people off buying the game, it's exposed a wider audience to, well, the fact that you can get pretty much anything that's in digital form for nothing in a few clicks of the mouse.
Note: You can also get viruses, Trojans, keyloggers and so on, but that's beside the point.
Increased piracy in the games sector isn't going to bode well for future games. What's worse, DRM will have killed off the very thing that it was designed to protect.