Good news, loud, complaining denizens of the internet! Bioware have backed down on their draconian copy protection for Mass Effect.
Edit: And EA say the same goes for Spore.
Community Manager, Jay Watamaniuk, has posted to the Mass Effect forums saying,
"There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days on how the security requirements for Mass Effect for PC will work. BioWare, a division of EA, wants to let fans know that Mass Effect will not require 10- day periodic re-authentication."
The reasons jumpward.
Watamaniuk explains that the change of heart comes as a result of listening to quite so many people pointing out how an every 10 day authentication would make the game impossible for them to play.
"BioWare has always listened very closely to its fans and we made this decision to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience to them. To all the fans including our many friends in the armed services and internationally who expressed concerns that they would not be able re-authenticate as often as required, EA and BioWare want you to know that your feedback is important to us."
So what instead? A one-time online authentication (and additional checks whenever you add new downloadable content), and no need to have the disc in the drive after that. Blimey - it's like being treated with dignity as a customer!
Things do get a bit BioShock with the news that this alternative method means it can be installed on up to three computers, and further authorisation will require a call to EA. However, it does appear that you'll be able to install it on three separate machines without the disc, which, er, no one point it out.
Many more details in the forum post here