Playstation Network's new terms of service bans class action lawsuits

Subscribers to the Playstation Network, like many online services, are subject to changes and revisions in its terms of service from time to time. This week, Sony decided to sent out emails to Playstation Network users alerting them to yet another change in the terms of service agreement. Customers must accept the new terms in order to sign on and use the Playstation 3 online service. The new agreement, however, now forces its millions of users to agree to not join any new class action lawsuits against Sony.

The exact change, in Section 15 of the terms of service agreement, is as follows: "Any dispute resolution proceedings, whether in arbitration or in 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 which you have a dispute specifically agree to do so in writing following initiation of the arbitration. This provision does not preclude your participation as a member in a class action filed on or before August 20, 2011."

The obvious motivation for this change is for Sony to prevent its Playstation Network subscribers from joining any massive class action lawsuit in the future. As IGN points out, Sony is already dealing with class action lawsuits filed in response to the cyber attacks that took down PSN last April along with Sony's decision to remove Linux support from the Playstation 3 console.

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Doesn't matter what they say, the courts wont uphold it. If it puts a party at a less than equal ground as the other in terms of protection and benefits, then a court will most likely not uphold the term stated.

loopholes boys... loopholes.... if i am the buyer of a device e.g. the ps3 but i am not the one playing it and the email address registered to it is not mine although i am not playing on it i can file any class action law suit against sony as i was not the one who accepted the TC ;D

if i can prove i am the own and not the player i can sue who ever i damn well please...

ha-ha Sure!

We shall all bring a class action law suite right now for making such a stupid threatening TOS.

What if I paid 3 years in advance for PSN and then do not agree with the new changes? Do I get my money back? Can I return my PS3 since I bought it to play online but now no longer can? How about all the games I purchased, since I no longer have a PS3 can I get that money back? How about all the games I bought online? It is asinine that these companies can take your money under one contract and then turn right around and amend the contract however they see fit with zero recourse from me.

Rooster69 said,
What if I paid 3 years in advance for PSN and then do not agree with the new changes? Do I get my money back? Can I return my PS3 since I bought it to play online but now no longer can? How about all the games I purchased, since I no longer have a PS3 can I get that money back? How about all the games I bought online? It is asinine that these companies can take your money under one contract and then turn right around and amend the contract however they see fit with zero recourse from me.

This is what I don't get. If they have clauses like this in their EULA, they should provide you with alternatives. Dont want to accept, just return the console for a full refund.

Even if you agree, is it even enforcable?.... I would've thought any legit legal action overides any EULA, especially since it isn't really a signed contract with a signature.

Tartan said,
Even if you agree, is it even enforcable?.... I would've thought any legit legal action overides any EULA, especially since it isn't really a signed contract with a signature.

All I know is good luck to Sony proving it was me that clicked "I Agree" from my PS3 or PC.

Tartan said,
Even if you agree, is it even enforcable?.... I would've thought any legit legal action overides any EULA, especially since it isn't really a signed contract with a signature.

You signature is not required for it to be signed but like Soul said, good luck proving it was you who clicked "I Agree". Of course, it is also illegal to sign a contract for someone else unless you are their guardian so there is that.

Example of a signed contract with no signature. FAFSA contracts are digitally signed and not with what would call a signature. It is just a 4 digit passcode.

ahhell said,
Geez. And here, I thought that all the crazy left Sony with Ken K.

Sony's full of crazy. I think you're required to be certifiable before they'll even review your application.

Why does it take a long time to down load a fiel from the PSN that's just a few hundred megs? If you download the same file from RapidShare, it takes less then 5 minutes. Does PSN not use CDNs?

Brian Miller said,
Why does it take a long time to down load a fiel from the PSN that's just a few hundred megs? If you download the same file from RapidShare, it takes less then 5 minutes. Does PSN not use CDNs?

They wanted to implement some security, so they bought the old Limewire infrastructure... /sarcasm

Surely the simplest legal protection is sufficient here - it's unconstitutional as it violates the first amendment, specifically:

1. it abridges the freedom of speech.
2. interfering with the right to peaceably assemble.

Or more specifically doing those things at the same time.

mattking said,
Surely the simplest legal protection is sufficient here - it's unconstitutional as it violates the first amendment, specifically:

1. it abridges the freedom of speech.
2. interfering with the right to peaceably assemble.

Or more specifically doing those things at the same time.

The constutition only protects you from government entities. A GOVERNMENT ENTITY can not bar your freedom of speech.

cybertimber2008 said,
The constutition only protects you from government entities. A GOVERNMENT ENTITY can not bar your freedom of speech.

Half true, if Sony receives any grants/funds from the government, then they fall into that same category. Government funded company's can not bar your freedom of speech also. Whether they are or not, I don't know but just a thought. Doing so would make them lose all government funding.

The biggest issue I have (and this is with most TOS, not just Sony's), is that they have clauses in there that state that they can pretty much retroactively change anything they like, and you have no choice but to continually lose rights. I'm surprised that people haven't challenged TOSs on that simple fact alone. If the law could be changed where they aren't allowed to include these "we can change anything at any time" clauses, much of this nonsense would end.

Neo003 said,
All of you complaining, you're still going to accept those conditions aren't you.

Nope. But then again, I stopped using the PSN when my PSP stopped working just outside of warranty (motor that moves the laser stopped working), and that I found out I could not update the PSP's firmware without a working optical drive (I mean WTF, I downloaded the update over the net, why would the drive need to work)

So I ordered a new optical drive online and installed it myself. Worked great with any of the older game titles, but the newer ones would not work AND I still couldn't update the damn firmware and without the latest firmware, I couldn't even buy or redownload any of the games I bought in the PS Store

So F Sony

/rant

Another change in the terms of service is that content can no longer be "purchased", it is now "licensed".

The chances of me using the PSN for video content just dropped to zero.

Sony's been s***t since my 3-month-usage Vaio had its memory controller malfunctioning. Back in the 90's, Sony was a company we could trust: good sound equipment, good gaming experience and good costumer support. Maybe they're trying to close its doors as fast as possible. Dumb move.

I personally hate to use any Sony thingy since they're not worth my money.

This should be interesting when the first class action suit comes down the pipe. This crap won't fly in the US either in spite of Sony's best legal efforts. Of course, in a US run by Republicans this is not only good business but probably worthy of a constitutional amendment.

I'm pretty sure that most legally responsible nations forbid - in one way or another - the enforcement of terms in contracts that surrender terms that are enforceable by national or sovereign laws. For example, as a consumer, I can agree to a contract that says that if I breach the terms and conditions of the contract, the company has a right to murder me and burn down my home. The fact that I have agreed to these terms does not grant the company the right to carry out with impugnity the acts with which they threatened me.

Similarly, it is the right in many nations of end users to bring legal action - whether as an individual or a group - against an entity that has been negligent in its maintenance of the explicit or implicit terms of the contract to which you are both party. It's irrelevant that one party may have surrendered those rights on paper - the right to bring that action remains enshrined in law (a law governed by a 'higher power').

In the United Kingdom, many of these rights are protected by legislation called the Unfair Terms In Consumer Contracts Regulations, which ensures that attempts by big companies to try to bully unknowing consumers into accepting unworkable or unbalanced conditions into a contract can be addressed.

What most consumers fail to realise when entering a contract is that any contract has to be fair to both parties to be legally enforceable. If a contract pushes too much of the power to one party, any attempt to uphold the contract in a dispute becomes more or less impossible as soon as it becomes clear that one party attempted to abuse its position of power, dominance, knowledgability or market presence to subjugate the rights of the other party.

For these reasons, I really can't see Sony's attempt to screw over its customers in this way getting very far.

gcaw said,
I'm pretty sure that most legally responsible nations forbid - in one way or another - the enforcement of terms in contracts that surrender terms that are enforceable by national or sovereign laws. For example, as a consumer, I can agree to a contract that says that if I breach the terms and conditions of the contract, the company has a right to murder me and burn down my home. The fact that I have agreed to these terms does not grant the company the right to carry out with impugnity the acts with which they threatened me.

Similarly, it is the right in many nations of end users to bring legal action - whether as an individual or a group - against an entity that has been negligent in its maintenance of the explicit or implicit terms of the contract to which you are both party. It's irrelevant that one party may have surrendered those rights on paper - the right to bring that action remains enshrined in law (a law governed by a 'higher power').

In the United Kingdom, many of these rights are protected by legislation called the Unfair Terms In Consumer Contracts Regulations, which ensures that attempts by big companies to try to bully unknowing consumers into accepting unworkable or unbalanced conditions into a contract can be addressed.

What most consumers fail to realise when entering a contract is that any contract has to be fair to both parties to be legally enforceable. If a contract pushes too much of the power to one party, any attempt to uphold the contract in a dispute becomes more or less impossible as soon as it becomes clear that one party attempted to abuse its position of power, dominance, knowledgability or market presence to subjugate the rights of the other party.

For these reasons, I really can't see Sony's attempt to screw over its customers in this way getting very far.


Exactly right. Under most jurisdictions the right of one party to sue another another party for damages is codified under law. In this case an affirmative defense of unconscionability applies. Namely, a defense against the enforcement of a contract based on the presence of terms that are excessively unfair to one party.

Specifically in this issue, the case law of the 2009 case of Harris v. Blockbuster, Inc. would seem to apply. The plaintiff argued that Blockbuster's provision to compel arbitration and forbid class action lawsuits was illusory and unconscionable. However, whether or not it is unconscionable is unknown, as the court agreed that it was illusory (not enforceable), and disregarded all further consideration.

It would seem that Sony is floating this, but it won't work in the end.

It actually gets worse, if you read it then it states that this is enforced even if you no longer decide to use PSN. So even if you quit and shut your account down, you're still not allowed to take part in a Class Action Lawsuit against Sony.

I don't know how legally binding this is, surely an EULA is no longer applicable when you're no longer licensing the software?

Kushan said,
It actually gets worse, if you read it then it states that this is enforced even if you no longer decide to use PSN. So even if you quit and shut your account down, you're still not allowed to take part in a Class Action Lawsuit against Sony.

I don't know how legally binding this is, surely an EULA is no longer applicable when you're no longer licensing the software?

That's my thoughts as well.

I'd like to impose a ban on banning class action lawsuits. Srsly... every company can start putting that into their "terms of _____" and end class action lawsuits.

sava700 said,
Don't use Playstation...simple solution! People complain yet they still use the stuff.

I've been avoiding anything made by Sony since the rootkits came installed on audio CD's in 2005.

Bamsebjorn said,

I've been avoiding anything made by Sony since the rootkits came installed on audio CD's in 2005.


Hehe, wow. I completely have done this as well.

Nimdock said,

Hehe, wow. I completely have done this as well.

Me too. I buy absolutely nothing made by the company... This has been made all the easier by Sony getting trounced by the competition in just about every industry they're in though... LOL

sava700 said,
Don't use Playstation...simple solution! People complain yet they still use the stuff.

So is don't do this and that your answer to all problems ? So if decide to pirate an application the companies should not complain but simply not release the product. I mean if they don't want to be pirated they should not make the product to begin with.

Twisted logic if you ask me.

Nobody is over the law. Not even companies. And the law in most contries says that you can enforce your right (here the right to sue) at all times even if you signed sometime saying you can't.

Edited by LaP, Sep 15 2011, 4:42pm :

What people don't realize is that the companies (like Sony in this case) prey on people who don't know any better.

This would be like me writing a contract to a friend that states anytime he breathes he has to jump or I will obtain his cars title, and he signed it. It still wouldn't hold up in court...

Tech Greek said,
What people don't realize is that the companies (like Sony in this case) prey on people who don't know any better.

This would be like me writing a contract to a friend that states anytime he breathes he has to jump or I will obtain his cars title, and he signed it. It still wouldn't hold up in court...

I dunno if this hold sup or not but just the idea behind it is an insult to users IMO. Thank god I don't care about multiplayer and thus don't pay for any of the online game services out there.

GP007 said,

I dunno if this hold sup or not but just the idea behind it is an insult to users IMO. Thank god I don't care about multiplayer and thus don't pay for any of the online game services out there.

It's not really an insult to users. Most don't give a flying fark abou the EULA and just click "I Agree"

I know I do, and I'll be that you do as well. I more often than not rely on articles like this to know when there is something outlandish in an EULA

Sraf said,

It's not really an insult to users. Most don't give a flying fark abou the EULA and just click "I Agree"

I know I do, and I'll be that you do as well. I more often than not rely on articles like this to know when there is something outlandish in an EULA


I actually spent a whole 20 minutes reading the newest xbox live EULA before agreeing to it.

n_K said,

I actually spent a whole 20 minutes reading the newest xbox live EULA before agreeing to it.

And I spent some time reading the EULA for my old Sidewinder joystick, do you make it a habit to read over every EULA, or just the occasional one?

/More recently, I also read the EULA for the Windows Phone Mango Beta

Sraf said,

II know I do, and

Everyone do. Nobody reads EULA and TOS. And while i do not agree with gouv regulation of everything i think TOS and EULA should be regulated by some agency.

It's stupid to give so much power to one end of a contract the users don't have any choice to sign to use any service these days. The fact is if you don't want to sign any TOS you simply can't use anything. No paid TV, no internet, ...

What can and cannot be included in a TOS and EULA should be regulated.

cralias said,
And how exactly this rule is practically enforcable?

Well, if/when you join a class action lawsuit you have to give your info, they already have your info when you made your account, so it's a simple matter of matching it up, then they'll ban you. It's a dick move in the end.

Now I wouldn't expect to be BFF with the company after filing a lawsuit regardless of the outcome. Sadly, fear is an efficient tool of management.

GP007 said,

Well, if/when you join a class action lawsuit you have to give your info, they already have your info when you made your account, so it's a simple matter of matching it up, then they'll ban you. It's a dick move in the end.

You would have had to agreed to the EULA to get the service, that you are upset about and feel wronged from, that leads you to the lawsuit which leads the company to say you agreed to a EULA that states you wouldn't sue.

This is evil.
What if I don't want to agree with the terms? Can't use the service that I paid for?

I don't think this will work everywhere though. Not a legal expert, but I if I remember correctly, EULA's aren't valid contracts in The Netherlands.

You can't pay till you agree to the terms anyways. If you already agreed usually they'll just push a new one in an update and you have to agree to get it.

Edited by Roger H., Sep 15 2011, 2:59pm :

Bamsebjorn said,
This is evil.
What if I don't want to agree with the terms? Can't use the service that I paid for?

I don't think this will work everywhere though. Not a legal expert, but I if I remember correctly, EULA's aren't valid contracts in The Netherlands.


if you are using the service then you already agreed to some other contract. and that contract mentioned somewhere that sony reserves to right to change everything without notice. it also probably said that if at the time of the new changes, you decide not to accept the new change then you will be kicked off the PSN netowrk.

people REALLY should read contracts before signing them.

SHoTTa35 said,
Wow, seems everyone is pulling a AT&T lately. IF you use our service you are not allowed to complain, legally.

Yeah. The act should be illegal itself. I should file a class action!

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah. The act should be illegal itself. I should file a class action!

Exactly, what kinda stupid move is this and how is it possible? Screw that.