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
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.