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Sony updates PSN’s Terms of Service to ask you to waive a few rights

Sit down, everyone, we’re about to get legal. Remember when the PlayStation Network was down for a month because a group of well-organized hackers cracked its servers open like an oyster and gobbled up all of personal data from millions of PSN users? We do. We also remember that when it happened there was talk of lawsuits, the kind that come when a company doesn’t do its job of protecting names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers of its customers.

Sony remembers this too, and though it’s promising to take leaps forward when it comes to protecting its customers’ personal information, it is making sure to look out for number one by updating its privacy policies and terms of service to make it harder for you to sue if it ever drops the ball again.

In an email sent out to all PlayStation Network users, Sony has outlined the updates to its legal documents. It specifically suggests that users should “review Section 15 of the TOS, which now includes a class action waiver and requires that most disputes be resolved through arbitration.”

Opening up the Terms of Service document shows a lot of red text and a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo, but here’s the interesting part:

“Class Action Waiver. 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. THIS PROVISION DOES NOT PRECLUDE YOUR PARTICIPATION AS A MEMBER IN A CLASS ACTION FILED ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 20, 2011.”

It appears that by agreeing to the terms of service by updating your PlayStation 3 and accepting the thing you’re not going to read, you’re waiving your rights to enter a Class Action Lawsuit against Sony. In other words, you sue Sony all you want, but you can’t join with a bunch of other people to sue Sony. If you’re going toe-to-toe with Sony in court you’re going to need to do it solo. It’s possible to opt-out of this clause, but that requires a written letter sent to Sony’s offices, and it has to be done within the next 30 days. Still with us? Good. By the time you’ve finished reading this you’ll be one step closer to passing the BAR exam.

We asked attorney Joseph T. Forkin for his opinion (which is not meant to be offered as legal advice), and he said that “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.” He also said that the fact that it’s free makes it “reasonable,” at least legally. “As long as you know about the clause before you pay or play for free, it’s going to be reasonable.”

There’s another option: cancel your PlayStation Network account without accepting these terms. If you do that, you’re allowed to enter a Class Action Lawsuit against Sony in the future. Odds are none of you are going to do that, but it’s still good to know your options.

Unless you are, in which case we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. Anyone angry enough to quit the PlayStation Network forever?

Sep 15, 2011

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22 comments

  • lordgodalming - September 16, 2011 6:19 a.m.

    I'm disgusted with monolithic corporations as much as the next guy...but I also get it. Some idiot dumps coffee in her lap and gets millions of dollars from McDonalds. Another idiot, drunk this time, reaches under his RUNNING lawnmower to pull out a clump of grass, loses his hand, and gets millions of dollars from the mower's manufacturer. And those are only two of the stupidest ones. Corporations will try to make you to sign away whatever rights they can, and regular people will try to make a fortune by doing nothing. The lesson here? Use the PSN if you want to, and do what you can to protect yourself and your info because everyone else is looking out for themselves too.
  • KingMiedus - September 16, 2011 5:55 a.m.

    The thing with the ToS though is that if you just press right instead of down you go right to accept, thus only having seen the first term and giving you the ability to say that you never read that as you were only required to see the first part before hitting accept.
  • Shanetexas - September 15, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    Did Gamesradar fire the whole staff? I don't recognize these guys.
  • majormoses117 - September 15, 2011 3:24 p.m.

    i HATE sony sometimes.
  • ninjaemperor - September 15, 2011 3:09 p.m.

    Hey Hollander, I see they've finally given you a profile picture, I guess this means that you're fully a member of the GR team now, congratulations. Good luck, and welcome, hope to hear you on tdar soon :)
  • Austin_SJ - September 15, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    There are some rights that you can't sign away, even if a contract says you do. My guess is this doesn't mean anything.
  • CitizenWolfie - September 15, 2011 2:47 p.m.

    How dare they! How dare they deny us the right to round up a lynch mob and sue their asses off and demand free stuff as compensation for a fairly decent service we don't pay for! HOW DARE THEY!!! My knees jerked so hard when I read this article I could see the potato faced ghost of Alan Titchmarsh. But seriously, it's amazing how much people will complain about free services if they think they're getting short changed. I think we were all pretty fairly compensated and it was decent enough of Sony to do so given that a standard (free) PSN account has pretty much the same functions as an Xbox Live Gold account.
  • sutrebla15 - September 15, 2011 3:24 p.m.

    I don't think they're suing because of the down time, but for the compromised information on their accounts.
  • CplCupcake - September 15, 2011 2:39 p.m.

    If any one has seen the movie "Hot Coffee" this really shouldn't surprise you. A lot of companies have similar clauses and it is even being included in employment contracts when you start working for larger companies. Some of them goes as far as to say that you can't sue and disputes can only be settled in arbitration. I am not happy about it and by no means do I support this type of legal loophole to avoid lawsuits but it seems like it's just something we're going to have to deal with.
  • tority - September 15, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    Oh, do I care? no! they gave me 2 games and a month to realize fresh air is still healthy
  • chrisat928 - September 15, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    No class action suits doesn't mean you can't bring a personal suit against them. God people are stupid.
  • EnigmaSpirit - September 15, 2011 3:12 p.m.

    Yeah, but 1 person vs Sony has way worse odds than 9001 people vs Sony in court.
  • Dman3981 - September 15, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    Sony doesn't stand a chance when the suing level is >9000.
  • ParanoidAndroid - September 15, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    ^I'll admit, I LOL'd.
  • Viklandian - September 15, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    The trouble with 9001 people v Sony is this: even if you smash the company into teeny-tiny little pieces, you stand to make more money (and, incidentally, not break Sony in the process) if you don't have to share. Personally, I'd rather just give Sony a bloody nose and get more cash (hoping that they learn their lesson), than turn Sony into a 'cautionary tale' that will be remembered for about 5 minutes in the business world before the next contender messes up, and we start all over again. Then again, you'd need a rock-solid case, and the time to go through all the legal fun stuff. Take your pick.
  • garnsr - September 15, 2011 2 p.m.

    I still haven't heard anything about what actually happened with the hacking. No one has said if it was negligence or just increasing sophistication of everything electronic.
  • ParagonT - September 15, 2011 1:59 p.m.

    It's not just Sony that does these sort of things, it's most corporations that offer services. The sad part is that although you paid for the system, you do not own the network and connection based services, so they can screw you over like this. Whats also sad is that if you did pay for multiple membership cards, or annual ones, this actually may effect you if I'm not mistaken. It just goes to show how wrapped around your cock they are about these sort of things.
  • Corsair89 - September 15, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    The only time I would consider suing Sony is if one of they're products malfunctioned resulting in serious physical injury to myself.
  • Corsair89 - September 15, 2011 1:56 p.m.

    Their, not they're >_<

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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