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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: Take 'em down
By jamesjwb on 9/18/2011 7:37:31 AM , Rating: 0
No. Educated people do not think it's up to the USA to save the world. They think the exact opposite - stop meddling, stop the hegemony, and sod off out of our affairs. This is what they think would help "save the world", as you put it.

The US is one of the worst aid-giving countries, if you exclude foreign aid disguised as weapons to places like Israel, of course. Oh look, an example of meddling.


RE: Take 'em down
By FITCamaro on 9/18/2011 10:33:58 AM , Rating: 3
Anytime we do anything we are blasted as thinking of ourselves as the world's police.

Anytime we do nothing we are blasted as doing nothing.

Other nations hate when we interfere until its their ass or something they have a stake in on the line. France hated us for going into Iraq because we ruined their illegal oil for food program with Saddam.

Fact is, no other nation does anything when anything bad happens other than the US when it necessitates military action. The UN is a worthless, corrupt organization that does nothing without the US. We are the first responders to any crisis. You can demonize us all you want. It won't change that.


RE: Take 'em down
By glennc on 9/18/2011 8:21:08 PM , Rating: 1
and the US isn't corrupt? typical american view of things. "the world owes us man." the US does NOT do anything that doesn't benefit them.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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