Empire: Total War uses online activation (through Steam), so if you buy this and you don't have an Internet connection all the time in your gaming PC, or you upgrade components on it or you upgrade your OS or any other arbitrary condition (which can change at any time at the whim of one of the suits at Creative Assembly) then you've just threw away a nice chunk of your fun money.
Where the hell are you getting this from? Why do you think that activation on Steam precludes you from upgrading your PC, changing your OS, etc? And why do you think that "arbitrary conditions" from Creative Assembly will stop you from playing the game?
FYI, Steam needs you to go online once to download/activate the game, and after that, you're pretty much free and clear. Every few weeks your Steam "ticket" will expire, and you'll have to go back online for all of 5 seconds to log in again. You can install it on a different PC. You can format & reload, and re-install it on the same PC. You can go from XP to Vista to Linux/WINE to the Windows 7 Beta, and Steam will allow you to install your game. (Whether the game itself will run well/at-all under certain environments is a different matter, but also not related to Steam.)
Some Steam games come with third-party DRM. I don't think Empire is one of them, but I haven't checked. Far Cry 2, X3: Terran Conflict, and GTA IV are all examples of this unfair and burdensome "extra DRM" but I don't feel it's fair to blame the store for the decisions of the publishers. I don't blame my local bookstore for, say, the content of an Ann Coulter book they carry.
The reason for copyright is to attach value to the creation of art. Specifically, if anyone is going to make money off of "Snowcrash", it should be Neal Stephenson or someone with his permission. Not a random publisher that decides to just print it and "save" money by not paying Neal a dime.
Copyright exists precisely to limit the public domain, not "enhance" it.
Uh, "wrong." Or more accurately, "staggeringly myopic." Yes, copyright is meant to provide artists with compensation for their work for a limited time in order to enhance the public domain. Copyright exists to make sure there's a reason to contribute to the public domain, and that reason is money. For a limited time. How you failed to take the next logical step in your argument is beyond me.
So, you'd rather use 100% of your TV the wrong way than ~70% of it the right way?
The two most beautiful words in the English language are "Cheque Enclosed." -- Dorothy Parker