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Sony sued over PSN's anti-class action lawsuit clause

A Northern California man is accusing Sony of overstepping its reach by asking PSN customers to waive their ability to enter class action lawsuits against the tech giant as part of a mandatory User Agreement update last September. According to documents gathered by GameSpot, the suit alleges Sony had no right to impose such a restriction and that it also buried the anti-class action clause in the 21-page user agreement update, while failing to post an online copy as it had done for previous updates. Moreover, while Sony did allow members to opt out of the provision via snail mail (like, with actual paper and stamps), the suit claims this was not an adequate option.

When the provision was first spotted, GR sought informal advice from attorney Joseph T. Forkin, who told us it was reasonable, explaining, “In most ‘terms of service’ many companies will try to get the consumer to sign away as many/all of their rights as is favorable to themselves... As long as you know about the clause before you pay or play for free, it’s going to be reasonable.”

At this time, the move was seen as Sony's way of making sure it avoids the same legal backlash it received from customers after a run of hacks earlier this year. It was also thought to be a reaction to the OtherOS class-action lawsuit filed against Sony in July after it removed the ability to install the Linux operating system on PS3. Luckily (well, for Sony), that lawsuit was dismissed last week.

"The dismay and frustration at least some PS3 owners likely experienced when Sony made the decision to limit access to the PSN service to those who were willing to disable the OtherOS feature on their machines was no doubt genuine and understandable. As a matter of providing customer satisfaction and building loyalty, it may have been questionable," wrote U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg in a statement obtained by IGN. "As a legal matter, however, plaintiffs have failed to allege facts or articulate a theory on which Sony may be held liable."

If this most recent suit is successful, it could prompt similar action against Microsoft's own anti-class action lawsuit revision, which appeared in a recent XBLA's Terms of Service update. We may also have to start reading more law books.

10 comments

  • NubberzTheHedgehog - December 20, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    And no one is complaining about the Xbox's ToS, and how it is pretty much the same thing. Why is Sony always getting the flak?
  • therawski - December 20, 2011 2:57 p.m.

    This judge must have been stoned. Removing functionality from a piece of hardware is like removing the AC from your car after you paid for it. So I'm very upset that the OtherOS issue was dismissed (but the lawyers were probably stoned too) Chances are we will see the same thing happen again with the class action lawsuit issue. We give up our rights all the time, it's what New America is about, no freedoms, only censorship, Our Fault!
  • chrisser665 - December 20, 2011 1:52 p.m.

    Matt, you're killing me. It's "waive"!!! Not "wave". Unless, of course, the issue pertains to Wave Race 64, in which case, make all the puns your little heart desires.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - December 20, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    It was a typo that has been fixed. An easy one to miss.
  • Caio - December 20, 2011 1:35 p.m.

    YES I had been wondering about the legality of that clause in the USA, seeing as a limitation of litigation rights like that wouldn't fly where I'm from. Happy to see someone is challenging Sony's draconian policy.
  • polarp - December 20, 2011 12:35 p.m.

    I'm rooting for this guy. It's absolutely disgusting to put that shady clause in the agreement.
  • Dman3981 - December 20, 2011 12:32 p.m.

    Only in America.
  • D0CCON - December 20, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    Are we allowed to fight the bullshit like this.
  • Hurricrane - December 20, 2011 11:49 a.m.

    Good on this guy! Wish I could give him some cash to help with the undoubtedly huge lawyer fees, but I really hope he wins. If he does it could overturn that awful, horrific, and straight up evil Supreme Court verdict. I want to play my games and I shouldn't have to give up my rights to do so.
  • FoxdenRacing - December 20, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    That's hilariously meta. "We're going to sue you for the right to sue you." A little history on why these clauses are popping up left and right: The US supreme court really dropped the ball...again...in ruling that forced arbitration is a reasonable alternative to countering a massive corporation's legal might by pooling the resources of thousands or millions of affected customers, or by a single affected customer pitting their resources against a massive corporation's.

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