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New(ish) Sony Terms Of Use: Thank The Supreme Court

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For those who have been in the dark about the goings-on in SonyVille - not owning a PS3, this came as news to me - the company recently updated its PSN terms of use, which states the following:

NOTE: THIS AGREEMENT CONTAINS A BINDING INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER PROVISION IN SECTION 15 THAT AFFECTS YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THIS AGREEMENT AND WITH RESPECT TO ANY "DISPUTE" (AS DEFINED BELOW) BETWEEN YOU AND SNEI, SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC., SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA LLC, THEIR AFFILIATES, PARENTS OR SUBSIDIARIES (ALL ENTITIES COLLECTIVELY REFERRED TO BELOW AS "SONY ENTITIES"). YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF THE BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER PROVISIONS AS FURTHER DESCRIBED IN SECTION 15.

As CNN reports, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling regarding a similar case brought by AT&T, class-action lawsuit against Sony are the thing of yesteryear - you will instead have to settle for arbitration on an individual basis. Those who wish to opt out of the new agreement (*edit*if you have already agreed to the updates ToS, you have 30 days to opt out) will be required to mail a letter to Sony's legal department at:

6080 Center Drive

10th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90045

ATTN: Legal Department/Arbitration

Read more opinionative (shut up, it's now a word) goodness after the jump!

Casting aside cheap jokes that one or two Supreme Court justices would, given the chance, most likely grant corporations the freedom to kick homeless kids in the face for sport - I think the real question here is: "what did said homeless kid do to prevent being kicked in the face?" - this isn't exactly fantastic news for consumers. Now it doesn't take too much imagination to see how this makes good business sense - cutting legal fees and avoiding higher-profile cases is in the interest of the bottom lines is highly advantageous - but it doesn't bode well for those who aren't, you know, a multinational corporation.

For all the creativity, ingenuity, and material abundance that the market can bring, it's worth noting that, broken down to its core, the business world is run on the model of the sociopath. That's not to entertain some kind of doomsday endgame (those of us who love video games have seen depicted time and time again), however: Companies cannot blindly trounce around and lay waste to the proles with impunity. Companies' raw self-interest is tempered by consumer preference - people generally don't like getting jerked around - and thus the endless pursuit of that fabled "self-interest" compels companies to behave, if only grudgingly, with some measure of decency. For all the arguments that can be made about frivolous use of the legal system - I've heard that "class"-anything leads to communism... or something - class-action lawsuits provide a last, financial deterrent. Of course there will be sympathizers who say that Sony is within its rights, validated by the Supreme Court, to prevent consumers from take effective legal action against them. While the cold, hard logic does indeed support this - as my friends of such persuasion are fond of telling me, "that's just how it is" - the righteousness of their actions fall flat. Even for those who cuddle up with their favorite copy of "The Fountainhead" before bedtime are faced with with the reality that, stepping back and looking at the larger picture for a moment, this affects them. Assuming you're not a vast business entity, you probably don't have a legal team at your disposal. Sony does.

And just to make it clear - and to evade the simple "So go buy a 360" solution for just a moment - despite the fact that it seems like I'm going on a tirade against Sony, this is something larger than them. It speaks to the nature of the market: that in an ideal world, companies would have carte blanche. One might even venture a guess that higher-ups in Nintendo and Microsoft are positively salivating at the ruling. Whether they follow suit is another matter, but for those of us firmly perched on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder know, the ebb and flow of d*ckishness is beholden to market trends: No company wants to open itself up to negative PR, but the three magic words, "everyone's doing it," brings with it a supposed collective absolution. One might question why such a big deal is being made out of this - chances are, you don't have any immediate plans to file suit against the company - one might turn right around and pose the same question to Sony, or any company that seeks to undermine legal recourse for consumers. Even the most callous, right-wing "it's all about me, all the time" blowhard - those who are usually first to stand up for the rich and powerful in the name of "individual liberty" when the opportunity presents itself - have to deal with the incongruity of, dare I say it, betraying their own self-interest. The thing you're rallying against isn't just the crowing and clawing of the parasitic Unwashed, nor every lawyer stereotype imagine since time immemorial: It's you - your self-interest, your choice, and gosh darn it with an eagle sitting atop a flagpole eating apple pie, your money.

via 1up

8 Comments

Mittens said:

There is another dimension here worth noting. License terms shouldn't be interpreted without context including the laws of the region. Clauses like this don't always have any effect because many states/nations override the mechanism with a consumer protection policy that enables access to court for violations of important civil liberties. So, it's not unusual for companies to push a rougher policy than they plan to comply with solely because it's easy to demonstrate to a court what terms you wanted--even when they won't preside. So, when law intervenes and contorts an agreement between parties, the courts will still note what the parties thought they were setting up.

Shin Gallon said:

Conservative-stacked Supreme Court: God-tier trolls.

Ulkesh said:

Just a clarification:

> Those who wish to opt out of the new
> agreement (assuming you haven't already
> agreed to it)

You have 30 days from the date of agreeing to the new TOS to file an opt-out letter with Sony.

This will opt-you out of the Class-action and Binding Arbitration section (Section 15) while still keeping the rest of the TOS agreed to. This will also allow you to continue to use the PSN while still retaining your rights to join Class-action lawsuits if warranted.

I mailed my opt-out letter yesterday (certified, return-receipt) morning. :)

If a user decides to not agree to the whole TOS, then they will not be able to use any of the online services (gaming, chat, messaging, PS store, Netflix, etc) as those all require you to login to the the PSN prior to usage.

Mittens said:

Per inquiry, I am not very concerned about the change to the SONY TOS. I would fully expect my state's laws privacy laws to obviate Sony's terms in the case of a reasonable concern of privacy breach. Outside of that issue, my primary risk with Sony is limited to the value of the games, media, and hardware I purchase.

AJ said:

Sony 'gets robbed' so to speak, and the thieves take their customers details.

Customers then sue Sony?

I don't blame them for trying to protect themselves to be honest.

There may have been security flaws at Sony, I don't know, but no system is fully secure. The hackers would have gotten in eventually one way or another if they were determined enough. I don't really see why Sony are then punished for being victims of a crime.

So long as their system follows current security and data protection standards as set in law, then thats all they can really do. Whether or not they did I don't know. I've not followed the case that closely.

I don't plan on sueing sony any time soon just because some script-kiddy might now know my name and address etc, and if they happened to have my bank details too it's not like they can take anything. I'm already poor...

SuperSwede said:

@Ulkesh: Thanks for the clarification, hombre. I have updated the article with a mention of the 30-day limit.

tropicofanatic said:

@ AJ, that's BS. Sony is 100% responsible for any security breaches. Period. They are making money off of your customer information, therefore they are liable for anything that happens to it. In my home state, 1 in 3 residents have had their information stolen from data breaches. This is outrageous and the responsibility is not on the the public for these breaches, it is on the companies that promise to secure such private information from any breaches. If you choose to accept corporations taking away your rights from legal recourse, that is your option sir, but you are giving consumer rights away just so you can have fun playing video games online. Well, corporations will always take anything they can, and it's people like you who let them get away with it.

audguy said:

@ AJ the problem is that Sony didn't even try to secure the information, the attackers come through an old security exploit that was closed a LONG time ago.

You can equate it to someone using the old way of processing credit cards and just throwing the carbon papers out in the trash instead of shredding them.

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audguy on New(ish) Sony Terms Of Use: Thank The Supreme Court : @ AJ the problem is that Sony didn't even try to secure the information, the attackers come through an old...

tropicofanatic on New(ish) Sony Terms Of Use: Thank The Supreme Court : @ AJ, that's BS. Sony is 100% responsible for any security breaches. Period. They are making money off of your...

SuperSwede on New(ish) Sony Terms Of Use: Thank The Supreme Court : @Ulkesh: Thanks for the clarification, hombre. I have updated the article with a mention of the 30-day limit....

AJ on New(ish) Sony Terms Of Use: Thank The Supreme Court : Sony 'gets robbed' so to speak, and the thieves take their customers details. Customers then sue Sony? I don't blame...

Mittens on New(ish) Sony Terms Of Use: Thank The Supreme Court : Per inquiry, I am not very concerned about the change to the SONY TOS. I would fully expect my state's...

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