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If Sony PS3 users blindly click through the console's terms of service, they sign away their right to bring class action suits against Sony or join existing class actions.  (Source: Simpsons/Matt Groening/20th Century Fox)
Updates terms of service state that the customer is guaranteeing if it sues Sony it can't be a class action

Uh oh, Japan's Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) is back at it again.  The company who installed malicious rootkits on users computers via music CD, banished OtherOS from the PS3, and legally harassed/tried to sue into bankruptcy hardware enthusiasts who modified the firmware of the Playstations they legally purchased, has come back with another controversial policy.

In an update to its popular PS3 gaming console Sony writes in the Terms of Service (TOS) that the user guarantees:
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 LEGAL 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.
The contract is similar to the one presented by some employers.  Since a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, binding arbitration has been increasingly used by corporations to escape lawsuits when behaving abusively.  

Here's how binding arbitration works.  The signer waives their rights to join or bring class action lawsuits.  Instead, they can present their case to an "arbitrator" appointed by the company.  This is essentially equivalent to a dismissal, as the company's "unbiased" private arbitrator nearly almost always dismisses the case.  The only alternative allowed is an individual suit against Sony, which again, will likely be a lost cause given that Sony has high powered attorneys on retainer, which will seek to quickly have your claims dismissed without the power of a class.

Unfortunately even if you don't sign such contracts, just receiving them is enough to partially nullify your right to due process, according to recent rulings.

Fortunately Sony has offered customers an opt out.  The TOS states:
IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE BOUND BY THE BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER IN THIS SECTION 15, YOU MUST NOTIFY SNEI IN WRITING WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THAT YOU ACCEPT THIS AGREEMENT. YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION MUST BE MAILED TO 6080 CENTER DRIVE, 10TH FLOOR, LOS ANGELES, CA 90045, ATTN: LEGAL DEPARTMENT/ARBITRATION AND MUST INCLUDE: (1) YOUR NAME, (2) YOUR ADDRESS, (3) YOUR PSN ACCOUNT NUMBER, IF YOU HAVE ONE, AND (4) A CLEAR STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH ANY SONY ENTITY THROUGH ARBITRATION.
In other words Sony provides no electronic opt out, you must write it a letter.  And of course Sony could claim not to have received that letter, unless you pay extra for tracking and signature on delivery.

Why all the legal gymnastics in the terms of service?  Well, several lawsuits are pending class action status against Sony.  Most involve the company's failure to protect PS3 users' private data, including credit cards, from hackers.  Sony was hacked dozens of times [1][2][3][4][5][6][7] in recent months thanks to woefully lacking security.  

Granted the change may not exempt Sony from some of these lawsuits, which were filed before August 20.  It does, however, prevent users from participating in future class actions should Sony conduct itself in an abusive or negligent manner.

Of course, should the Supreme Court overturn such "opt in" contracts, Sony ability to pressure users into signing away their rights could vanish.  However, there's little guarantee that will happen anytime soon.


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RE: lulsec?
By Helbore on 9/16/2011 7:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
And Microsoft were in second place behind them.


RE: lulsec?
By B3an on 9/17/2011 6:05:18 AM , Rating: 3
The X360 has outsold the Wii for more than a 12 month basis in the US. In many other parts it's doing the same. Even in Japan it's outsold the Wii at one point, and might still be, i've not looked recently. Theres still a while until this gen of consoles is over remember and as time goes on Wii sales keep going down.


RE: lulsec?
By Phoque on 9/17/2011 7:14:19 AM , Rating: 3
There's the number of unit sold to determine a winner, but there's also the amount of profit the company made during that generation. I'd be curious to see numbers for the three console makers.


RE: lulsec?
By ajfink on 9/17/2011 10:21:40 AM , Rating: 2
My favorite part is how Microsoft is fine with bleeding money at times if it means "winning" the market. Thankfully for them, their entertainment division got profitable relatively quickly.

Sony...not as fast.


RE: lulsec?
By inperfectdarkness on 9/19/2011 7:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
i'm fairly certain that MS spent as much money hyping halo games as nintendo made in net profit across all products.

seriously, MS's business practice with consoles is like watching j-z "makin it rain".


RE: lulsec?
By Helbore on 9/17/2011 7:21:19 AM , Rating: 3
Either way, my point was that Sony were in third place. They certainly didn't win this round like they did with the PS1 and PS2.


RE: lulsec?
By kleinma on 9/17/2011 10:36:34 AM , Rating: 4
What is funny is Sony would likely never have even been in the console game had it not been for Nintendo backing out of the partnership with Sony.


RE: lulsec?
By Totally on 9/24/2011 2:03:38 AM , Rating: 2
not really, it was Nintendo's loss/mistake.


RE: lulsec?
By someguy123 on 9/17/2011 7:48:14 PM , Rating: 1
360 sales are far from reaching wii sales. also microsoft pulled out of japan a while back. the japanese market just wouldn't accept their console for whatever reason.


RE: lulsec?
By BZDTemp on 9/17/2011 7:04:28 PM , Rating: 1
It's debatable whether this round in the console war is over but saying Microsoft came second is wrong. The 360 came on sale almost a year ahead of the PS3 and sales figures by now is around 55 million for both consoles (with the Wii at 88 million or so).

On top of the PS3 there is also the 69 million PSP's sold and the PS2 which has sold 150+ million (more PS2's has been sold since the 360 launch than 360's so you could say Sony beat the current MS console with their old one).


RE: lulsec?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/17/2011 7:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
lol yeah add in the subscription revenue from Xbox Live and tell me who won :)


RE: lulsec?
By BZDTemp on 9/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: lulsec?
By JW.C on 9/20/2011 1:01:37 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry, but PS2 and PSP sales do NOT count in this debate. We are talking about current generation consoles not the PS2 which you can buy for $5 these days


RE: lulsec?
By elgoliath on 9/23/2011 5:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
The real reason the 360 won vs the PS3 is it's attach rate- lots of people bought the PS3 primarily for the BD


"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard














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