Sony’s New Terms Of Service Attempts To Trick PS3 Owners Out Of Suing Them

If, like me, you logged onto PSN today, you probably noticed a requirement to once-again agree to Sony’s Terms of Service. That’s been an ongoing ritual for those of accustomed to the constant flailing about that began with their pathetic response to last spring’s epic hacking. You know, the one that compromised thousands of Sony customers’ information. Today’s update is a little more – what’s a word for something that is both sinister and ridiculous? – than previous updates. Their new TOS is a direct response to the ongoing class-action lawsuits brewing against them. It requires PSN customers to voluntarily forfeit their right to join any such suit. From the new terms:

Any Dispute Resolution Proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action or as a named or unnamed member in a class, consolidated, representative or private attorney general action, unless both you and the Sony entity with which you have a dispute specifically agree to do so in writing following initiation of the arbitration

(Emphasis mine.)

What Sony is asking from their customers is essentially the same kind of legal deference the US government showed to the Financial sector in the wake of the economic meltdown. First, ask them pretty please if they would please please consent to being sued by an entire class instead of by distinct individuals filing separate lawsuits. Sony will then review the merits of that request and once the evidence has been considered, issue a decision that will certainly take the consumer’s POV into account. That will probably happen right after they make Playstation 2 games available for PSN download.

Naturally, it’s considerably cheaper for Sony to deal with outrage one customer at a time – filing a lawsuit is expensive and no one is likely to take the risk of being on the hook for legal fees if they payoff is only, at most, a couple of hundred dollars, assuming they win. Fortunately, customers who don’t wish to accept these new terms have two options:

1) They have 30 days to quit PSN entirely. Sony will issue a refund to them and while they won’t be able to access PSN features ever again, they will be able to join a class action suit.
2) Just wait. Because the legality of forcing people to forego their legal rights is…unclear. And Sony knows it:

If the Class Action Waiver clause is found to be illegal or unenforceable, this entire Section 15 will be unenforceable, and the dispute will be decided by a court and you and the Sony Entity you have a dispute with each agree to waive in that instance, to the fullest extent allowed by law, any trial by jury.

I honestly don’t see this claus holding up under the law. On the other hand, I also don’t see a class action suit going anywhere. Sony did completely screw up their handling of the hack attack. And they deserve both the loss of money and the reputational black eye it caused them. But it appears the damage to customers was limited.

One thing is still certain: Sony continues to be a nonstop source of hilarity. Thanks for that guys, I appreciate it.

For a better understanding of this, check out the fullTOS document at Sony’s site.

H/T VG247

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3 Comments on Sony’s New Terms Of Service Attempts To Trick PS3 Owners Out Of Suing Them

Manny

On September 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm

What is the legal remifications of a TOS/EULA with a person under the age of 18? Most contracts between an adult and a minor with NO adult supervisor on the minors behalf are not considered legal or binding. Is the same true for a EULA or TOS?

Ross Lincoln

On September 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm

The main Sony Playstation page has this little disclaimer for their websites:

1. ABILITY TO ACCEPT TERMS OF SERVICE
These Terms of Service form a legally binding contract between you and us. By using our Sites, you affirm that you are at least 18 years of age, an emancipated minor or possess legal parental or guardian consent, and are fully able and competent to enter into the terms, conditions, obligations, representations and responsibilities set forth in these Terms of Service, and to abide and comply with these Terms of Service.

Generally speaking, clauses like this translate as “if you f-up, we will come after your parents, not you personally”. I believe – and I’m going to ask some lawyers for more accurate information – that minors wouldn’t be able to join a class-action suit, they’d have to get someone to do it on their behalf, so once again back to the parent.

Most of the time, stuff isn’t really binding on minors, though the assumption is that their parents approved their membership. Also, typically purchases for minors made on PSN would be made on their behalf by parent’s card, so same thing applies.

quatro

On February 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

i need to find where to agree to the tos on ps3 i cant find it