backtop


Print 109 comment(s) - last by Totally.. on Sep 24 at 2:07 AM


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.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: lulsec?
By Reclaimer77 on 9/17/2011 11:01:46 AM , Rating: -1
Class action lawsuits are a crock. Designed to make lawyers super rich by targeting large corporations under the guise of consumer protection or safety or some such nonsense. People participating in them get hundreds or maybe a few thousand dollars, meanwhile the lawyers make MILLIONS. I ask you, does that sound right? The money doesn't even go to the "damaged" parties, how is that justice?

Sony is trying to indemnify themselves from the horde of ambulance chasing crooked lawyers who will no doubt try to exploit the ignorance of the general public and blame being hacked on Sony. There's nothing evil or wrong with this at all, it's common sense.


RE: lulsec?
By cochy on 9/17/2011 11:34:24 AM , Rating: 5
Doesn't matter. The point of a class action lawsuit is to stick it to the big corporations. Wanna try to sue Sony for a few million yourself? Good luck financing that one.

The class action is the consumer's version of nuclear warefare and companies are scared shitless of them which is why we see this total BS EULA from dickless Sony.

As far as EULAs are concerned. I can't believe courts actually hold these things up. They are never rightly explained to the end users and 3/4 of it is incomprehensible legalese. Anyway I thought people weren't even legally allowed to sign a contract which is so one-way biased against them.


RE: lulsec?
By FITCamaro on 9/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: lulsec?
By cochy on 9/17/2011 12:55:59 PM , Rating: 3
You missed my point totally. Simply, my point is that consumers have a massive legal disadvantage against large corporations. Because in America at least, legal advantage is also gained by how much money you throw at the problem. Class action is a way to level the playing field. That's all I was saying.

For you to say that large lawsuits don't stop companies from doing something is pretty silly because losing these large lawsuits ends up hurting the bottom line of these companies quite a bit.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki