Sony changes PSN terms to block class action lawsuits

By on September 16, 2011, 1:30 PM

This is interesting. In a mandatory PlayStation 3 update, Sony has slipped a change to the terms of service for the PlayStation Network so that users who accept it are basically giving up the right to take part in a class-action lawsuit against them. The new clauses, termed "Binding Individual Arbitration," mandate that any Dispute Resolution Proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted on an individual basis only.

Any outstanding class action lawsuits filed against Sony will still stand, including the class action suit filed in April over the PSN security breach. But it seems Sony is protecting itself against further litigation should it be hacked again in the future -- or perhaps if it pull another rootkit fiasco. They are in their legal right to do so, according to some analysts, but the stealthy move can't help their already tainted image in the minds of customers.

Although this could hurt consumers' chances to challenge the company in court in case of any wrongdoing, there's nothing in the terms of service preventing people from suing Sony on an individual basis.

Looking at it from another perspective, as Gamasutra notes, class action suits in the gaming world usually benefit a few (read: lawyers) while members of the class have to make do with the crumbles (i.e. The Hot Coffee class action suit against Take-Two, which netted its members a replacement game disc or from $5 to $35 in cash).

In any case, users can also opt-out of the binding arbitration and class action waiver by contacting Sony in writing within 30 days of agreeing to the new terms. The full list of changes to the agreement is available here (PDF). It's worth noting that PSN users are required to agree to the new terms upon signing in to be able to use the service.




User Comments: 40

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ghasmanjr ghasmanjr said:

I am getting so tired of Sony. Maybe if they had better security systems, they wouldn't have problems with hackers being able to access information. However, this is not the case. If they were a company that believes in ethics (read: taking away features), no one would have a problem with them. Microsoft hasn't had any problems with Live support and no one hates Microsoft enough to sue them. I wonder if there is a connection...

Guest said:

Just because something is in the TOS or whatever doesn't mean that it is legal. This will not stand up for **** in court.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Guest said:

Just because something is in the TOS or whatever doesn't mean that it is legal. This will not stand up for **** in court.

Actually, what they're doing here is completely legal.

Guest said:

In Canada

Some companies add arbitration clauses to contracts that require you to use a private arbitration process to resolve complaints instead of going to court or seeking assistance from the Ministry of Consumer Services. You are not bound by these clauses, even if you have accepted the agreement.

Zilpha Zilpha said:

Actually, what they're doing here is completely legal.

Well, ish. What I will be interested to see if how much of an outcry this actually incites. It would be interesting to see someone bring a class action lawsuit over this change regarding class action lawsuits. After all, if you don't agree to the ToS, you can still bring one.

Things like class action law suits are in place to protect consumers and I just don't see Sony getting away with it once the attorneys general get involved.

And they WILL get involved.

Guest said:

SONY is nothing more than a wolf leading sheep. They have delusional consumer hoards that blindly follow the Word of SONY, and do their masters bidding. I hope people with stop taking SONY's load in the mouth, and bite back by boycotting their products.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Guest said:

SONY is nothing more than a wolf leading sheep. They have delusional consumer hoards that blindly follow the Word of SONY, and do their masters bidding. I hope people with stop taking SONY's load in the mouth, and bite back by boycotting their products.

yea.. me too.. while on the other hand i already own this lovely ps3... hmm.. what shall I do? Throw it out the window? Sell it to someone? Ya right... I paid $300 bucks for it.. second hand and it was HOT not to mention.. probably stolen. Anyways... my point is. I'm not going to stop using it because I dont like sony... however this may keep me from buying future products.

Also, what shall i go with instead? Xbox or PC? well that doesnt really matter. Microsoft has me covered both ways. My hopes are that the rumors are true that Windows 8 will play Xbox games.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

trillionsin said:

Guest said:

SONY is nothing more than a wolf leading sheep. They have delusional consumer hoards that blindly follow the Word of SONY, and do their masters bidding. I hope people with stop taking SONY's load in the mouth, and bite back by boycotting their products.

yea.. me too.. while on the other hand i already own this lovely ps3... hmm.. what shall I do? Throw it out the window? Sell it to someone? Ya right... I paid $300 bucks for it.. second hand and it was HOT not to mention.. probably stolen. Anyways... my point is. I'm not going to stop using it because I dont like sony... however this may keep me from buying future products.

Also, what shall i go with instead? Xbox or PC? well that doesnt really matter. Microsoft has me covered both ways. My hopes are that the rumors are true that Windows 8 will play Xbox games.

Oh yea.. How did I forget to mention Nintendo? The joke of the console video gamers.

natefalk natefalk said:

Many corporations are already doing this and you probably aren't aware. Most go as far as saying you have to use the corporation's "arbitrator" instead of an actual judge. You can guess how these arbitrators rule in these cases. Even if you go to a judge, there is a good chance that corporate money put him in that seat and he has their best interests in mind... Google "Halliburton Jamie Leigh Jones"... or Tort reform...

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

What this means is Sony can crush each individual one by one with there million dollar lawyers. Gaming is being hurt by all these greedy careless companies, i can only imagine the horrid future that is coming.

Guest said:

ohhhh... poor babies crying that you can't sue.... Don't like it? move on, no one forces you to play...

Guest said:

This company is still in business? They're getting desperate.

Guest said:

@Trillionsin

It's all good. Once upon a time, you bought a SONY product. It was good. It was grand! I don't recommend throwing out your Sony PS3, or Sony TV or any other products that have been purchased. Play til it breaks. When it breaks (and they will break), find a new toy. Just don't buy SONY.

I've moved to PC games, and let's face it... there are not very many "PS3 onry" developers. Most games I have seen or want to play are multi-platform.

My name is Ben. I'm just lazy to sign up.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It would be quite an interesting sociology experiment to compare the individualss deriding Sony's protective move here with the individuals cheering on the hack of PSN... Wanna bet there is a massive amount of crossover between those 2 pools of people?

Seriously, if you were one of those who applauded the illegal PSN hack and the associated damage it did to Sony as a corporation, you should not be allowed to cry foul when Sony decides to try and defend itself from future damages. That is beyond hypocricy. Reap what you sow.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm no Sony fanboy but some people really need to quit complaining and get out of this stupid suing culture. When I heard about the Sony hacks I immediately cancelled my credit card and anyway, even if your card was stolen and swiped you would have got the money back from the credit card issuer.

And I agree with the above, I bet a lot of people who condoned the hacks are now crying and saying they're entitled to this that and the other.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I see nothing wrong with the development of homebrew. Taking advantage of the jailbreak to cheat online is something different.Geohot got sued for doing what he did to the PS3 and his firmware purposely didn't allow backups to be run. PS3 backups were being spread before his jailbreak method. Sony didn't care and he got sued still >_>

Guest said:

I am a small zombie in the zombie army of ps3 users, I don't get to buy a couple of games a year and never had payed Sony for streaming media or services offered by the Sony Store. And lately stopped using the psn service because I don't get to play online anymore.

Today I started the console and get the notice that I must agree with the new terms of service to sign to the psn, I agree to them because if you are not logged you cannot see your scores online anymore.

Now I feel that even for a zombie I'm too lame, why should I agree to new terms of service just to receive a free service ?

I know that the console is not free, the games are not for free, and to play online which I don't do anymore is free ( using sony's servers and network ) just agree with any silly stupid condition the come out with ...

I have only one request: please, SONY fix the stupid ps3 browser, so I can browse the REAL network and forget about your PSN service with all your stupid terms of service

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

xclusiveitalian said:

What this means is Sony can crush each individual one by one with there million dollar lawyers. Gaming is being hurt by all these greedy careless companies, i can only imagine the horrid future that is coming.

Yeah, but the flip side is that the plaintiff attorneys do 1/x of the work, where x = number of plaintiffs, but they collect the same 50% of the settlement as if they did all the work.

So you have 2 million plaintiffs, the lawyers don't do shit, each plaintiff gets 20 bucks, and the lawyers walk away with 10 million. Then Sony passes the 10 million costs back to the consumer, so you're basically going to pay that 20 back to Sony, and then another $100 on top of that for *your* attorney.

As far as Sony's million dollar lawyers, they're going to crush the single attorney whether he represents one plaintiff or a million.

ALL that class action lawsuits are designed for is to put money in lawyers pockets.

RH00D RH00D said:

Vrmithrax said:

It would be quite an interesting sociology experiment to compare the individualss deriding Sony's protective move here with the individuals cheering on the hack of PSN... Wanna bet there is a massive amount of crossover between those 2 pools of people?

Seriously, if you were one of those who applauded the illegal PSN hack and the associated damage it did to Sony as a corporation, you should not be allowed to cry foul when Sony decides to try and defend itself from future damages. That is beyond hypocricy. Reap what you sow.

Tell me how text in a TOS is a defense against hackers.

Also, this has nothing to do with "hackers". How about when Sony does ANYTHING that negatively affects a large amount of customers or consumers. They are now defenseless (pretty much). Because we all know 1 person is going to win against a mega-corporation, right Mr. Vrmithrax?

Ghost Fire said:

Japanese gaming has become so irrelevant in the last 5ish years anyway. Western gaming and european gaming has been on a steady rise for years now. Japan is too afraid to take risks with games these days. Name 10 games that have come from Japanese developers in the last 5 years that wasn't a sequel or remake. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Zeromus said:

I'm not concerned because I do not have a Playstation 3.

Guest said:

So basically they're saying "We're inept , DEAL WITH IT!" screw that noise..lol

Guest said:

Everyone is railing on Sony here, but I have a feeling that MS and nintendo wont be far behind. As one of the SCOTUS judges that made this bindingly legal here in the us put it

"It's almost malpractice for a lawyer of a company now not to put an arbitration clause in any kind of document, whether it's a consumer contract or an employment agreement. All of those agreements will be enforced and the company [will] no longer face the prospect [of class-action liability], if they write the agreement correctly.

- Supreme Court advocate Tom Goldstein"

Expect this to show up everwhere. itunes, warcraft, windows 8, everywhere.

JohnAus said:

Corporate bodies are inhuman money making machines. They dont die, they can change names, assume different identitites and are completely removed from the human race.

This latest attempt at not being responsible, so we humans cannot take class action is another human right taken away from us.

If the corporation isnt human, and this is the only pain we can inflict, and is felt by this inhuman corporation then we musnt let them get away with this.

Any attempt at this type of agrement must be made illegal, if it isnt already illegal.

I havent got one piece of SONY equipment in my home due to other companies filling that space. Overpriced and over rated SONY, and now seen to be unreliable as well, when things go wrong certainly wont fill consumers with confidence. I would like to see myself at the head of that corporation, and it will stop acting like mafiosy.

TJGeezer said:

Guest said:

ohhhh... poor babies crying that you can't sue.... Don't like it? move on, no one forces you to play...

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/troll

Zecias said:

ghost fire said:

Japanese gaming has become so irrelevant in the last 5ish years anyway. Western gaming and european gaming has been on a steady rise for years now. Japan is too afraid to take risks with games these days. Name 10 games that have come from Japanese developers in the last 5 years that wasn't a sequel or remake. Don't worry, I'll wait.

First off, you need to specify where japanese games are irrelevant. They certainly are becoming less relevant in the west, but as it is now, it is no where close to irrelevant. And it's also funny how you compare JAPAN, A SINGLE COUNTRY to the western world, a collection of how many countries? No **** japan will have less influential games. Just because their games no longer dominate the entire market, doesn't mean they are irrelevant. Portal, witcher, fallout, elderscrolls, battlefield, mass effect, half life; It's perfectly logical to say those games are not influential because they are series(sarcasm). Discounting sequels makes no sense at all, i can understand how you say that about remakes, but sequels? You could ask for 10 games in any country that are not series or remakes and it would be difficult. Pretty much all influential games have a sequel, and those sequels are often influential in their own ways. Ex: Assassin's Creed was meh, AC2 was a huge improvement.

You must understand that the culture of japan is much more different than in western countries. They prefer arcade style games and rpgs over western shooters. Handhelds are the most popular form of gaming.

[link]

Your request is stupid. I can just give you a list of crappy games to counter your argument. Asking for 10 influential games would have made more sense.

pmshah said:

If I remember correctly a US court took the view that majority of people clicking on "I Acept" box do so without actually reading the terms as there was no way to proceed further and the rules did not apply.

tengeta tengeta said:

I was thinking about a PS3 this winter with the price drop and all, but I think I'll just replace my broken 360 and gaming pc...

TJGeezer said:

Guest said:

Everyone is railing on Sony here, but I have a feeling that MS and nintendo wont be far behind. As one of the SCOTUS judges that made this bindingly legal here in the us put it

"It's almost malpractice for a lawyer of a company now not to put an arbitration clause in any kind of document, whether it's a consumer contract or an employment agreement. All of those agreements will be enforced and the company [will] no longer face the prospect [of class-action liability], if they write the agreement correctly.

- Supreme Court advocate Tom Goldstein"

Expect this to show up everwhere. itunes, warcraft, windows 8, everywhere.

Thank you, U.S. Corporate Supremes. Welcome to Mussolini's Dream, the merging of corporate with government power.

But the legitimizing of arbitration clauses is one thing. The real issue for me is that arbitration must be done by someone hired by Sony rather than by an independent arbitration judge (or whatever you call them). Did the Corporate Supremes okay that too?

Guest said:

@ghost fire

Bayonetta

Vanquish

Shadows of the Damned

No More Heroes

Catherine

Demon's Souls

3D Dot Game Heroes

BlazBlue

999

The World Ends With You

Want me to go on?

Guest said:

You all do realize this is a "Catch22" case. if you agree to the terms you have to make sure that Sony receives a Certified letter with proof of receipt in order for them to admit that you sent them a letter stating that you disagreed with their terms and if you straight "Decline" their terms you CAN'T use the product since you are barred from their services... To each his own but Sony has NOT made any decent decisions in a while. I am waiting to see when the letter to abolish this terms comes out and I will gladly sign it. If Sony doesn't want to be sued then they should take RESPONSIBLE measures to avoid being sued. Just because you are sued doesn't mean you are guilty the judges have to agree that you were acting in poor judgement and then they ask you to pay damages. Sony has been constantly messing up and by them saying that people can't sue them is even bigger.

And for those who say if you don't like Sony don't use it last big product I purchased from them was the PS3 2 years ago and haven't invested in anything else from them.

aj_the_kidd said:

It makes sense for Sony to make this move, class action law suits == bad publicity. Like what was mentioned earlier individually they can keep things relatively quiet and crush them. Its a bit of shady move but I guess its the norm these days

Guest said:

Because you know...we were all planning on suing Sony to begin with /sarcasm . It's their product, if you don't like their terms, don't use their service it's as simple as that. They're not forcing you to accept, you can decline and not use their service.

Guest said:

It's a gaming console. It's used to play games and multimedia content. Why shouldn't Sony protect their asses from twits who decide to sue because they've lost the ability to pirate games, or can't run their precious linux anymore? Get a PC.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

RH00D said:

Vrmithrax said:

It would be quite an interesting sociology experiment to compare the individualss deriding Sony's protective move here with the individuals cheering on the hack of PSN... Wanna bet there is a massive amount of crossover between those 2 pools of people?

Seriously, if you were one of those who applauded the illegal PSN hack and the associated damage it did to Sony as a corporation, you should not be allowed to cry foul when Sony decides to try and defend itself from future damages. That is beyond hypocricy. Reap what you sow.

Tell me how text in a TOS is a defense against hackers.

Also, this has nothing to do with "hackers". How about when Sony does ANYTHING that negatively affects a large amount of customers or consumers. They are now defenseless (pretty much). Because we all know 1 person is going to win against a mega-corporation, right Mr. Vrmithrax?

That thing that mussed up your hair was my point flying by overhead. I did not, at any point, say this would protect Sony from HACKERS. I said it was a protective move against DAMAGES done by possible future hacks. My point was this: I see many of the same individuals who were cheering on the hack that cost Sony so much money (and has subjected them to class-action suits) now complaining about Sony's move to try to protect itself in some manner financially. Didn't say it was right, didn't say I agree one iota with Sony's move. Just that it's hypocritical to cheer an illegal and malicious attack on a company, then complain when the backlash comes around to bite everyone.

soliozuz said:

Sony and Apple should get into dysfunctional relationship because I don't think I've seen one company more afraid of lawsuits while the other so fond of using them. It just amazes me how neither company stand on it's own and is merely been playing catch-up since crafty companies have perfected their innovation.

Also for those wondering, the agreement not to sue in a contract in not in any shape or form enforceable by law in America. It may discourage the average consumer from suing, but you cannot sign away your right to legal recourse.

It would be as if you leased a car with Ford and they forced you to sign a contract that stated that you couldn't sue them even if it's their fault. Sorry, but that's now how the world works. That part of the contract is not valid--so no one should worry about it anyway...

Guest said:

About 15 years ago Sony screwed me out of $300 by not standing behind a warranty on a Shortwave Radio. Their radio went south during the warranty period and I dutifully sent it to a repair center with all the proper paper work. About a month later I got a letter from them asking for an authorization of a $100 repair bill. When I called them up to inquire about the bill they told me they never received the necessary paper work for warranty repair. Really? Hard to believe since I had it taped to the unit. I informed them not to worry that I had made copies and I would send the paper work again. Another month goes by and I receive a new unit in the mail for free with the notice that the new unit had only a 90 day not a 1 year warranty. I later learned this was illegal. They were supposed to give a full 1 year warranty. Within the 90 day warranty the new radio failed. What I didn't know then was that the radio SW100s had a design fault. It was a clam shell design that had a ribbon cable that was prone to failure. Sony should have done a recall. About a year ago by chance I found a repair kit for the radio on the internet for $40. It had a new design that solved the pinched cable problem. So I finally got my radio back. No thanks to Sony.

Since Sony lied about not having the original paperwork. Since they lied by telling me that my new warranty was only 90 days and not one year I consider Sony an untrustworthy company and I have never given them a cent of my money. (Other than the $40 for the repair kit.) I may be small but I never forget. As far as I'm concerned we need to start bombing Japan again.

soliozuz said:

Honestly, I'm just waiting on the X-Box to release a better system or hell, I'm just waiting until I have enough cash, I'm going to be selling my PS3 on eBay and all the games for it as well. The only thing I have Sony is the PlayStation as I didn't even bother with a PSP or anything else. I'll admit, Sony had a great PlayStation and PlayStation 2 - I had no problems with either systems, but X-Box is a better gaming community and it's products have gotten much better, especially their current line.

I don't buy their laptops because they are gimmicky, flashy and aren't at all innovative enough to making a lasting impression. What that means is that they basically follow suite of what other companies are doing and not necessarily coming up with something "unique" and that doesn't include engraving your name which is just a retarded thing to do, especially when they explicitly state that it ruins your warranty.

Guest said:

If I refuse to sign the agreement and can no longer log onto the service, have THEY violated the terms of service I previously signed. And if yes, can I return the machine for a (depreciated) refund?

Guest said:

Screw Sony. That's like their way of slapping a users face and saying tough ****. We can do what we want and there is nothing you can do about it. There will be a lawsuit on this I am sure. Sony and their products are nothing more than sub-par useless items just branded with **** that is Sony. I'm surprised their products are not brown to match. That rootkit fiasco you pulled on us will never forget. I love how big companies come out being all cocky. But keep in mind a company isn't **** without customers. Sure you have your stockholders but how many will still have them if a company has no customers? Company survives by money and certainly that money doesn't grow on trees. It comes from us without us Sony, you can't live and you know it. Just look at Netflix for example. Once all mighty beast is turning into a ***** cat. With the exception of the first Playstation, I have never ever bought any of your products because I do my research and learned about your ways with the company through out the years. I see the product name and I skip it. So ok, well how about my change of service, I want to return my original Playstyation because I no longer value and have faith in this company. Yea I bet that won't go will it. May you be blessed with more hackings perhaps in your bank account this time and bleed that money till you die.

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