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Sony: TOS changes prompted by US Supreme Court ruling

Thursday, 22 September 2011 06:52 GMT By Jessica Citizen

Sony has announced that the recent changes to its online terms of service agreement forbidding class action lawsuits was prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in a move which suggests other companies will be leaping to follow in kind.

The recent change is covered under the Binding Individual Arbitration section, which effectively means that consumers have waived their rights to be represented as part of a class. Any disputes with Sony therefore “will be conducted only on an individual basis”, rather than the company being sued by a larger group of people.

The U.S. Supreme court ruling saw AT&T Mobility allowed to block employees from bringing class-action suits against the company by including a clause in their hiring papers. Given how much money and effort legal disputes can chew up, this plan will save the companies a hefty stack ‘o cash. Sony are banking on the idea that individuals are going to be much less likely to take their claims through arbitration by themselves.

If you don’t want to be included in this, you do have a choice. Gamasutra reports that, by sending a physical letter to the company, you can opt-out. Sony doesn’t expect you to do that, either, but it will theoretically silence the haters in case this case ever gets dragged in front of a judge.

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15 Comments

  1. Christopher Jack

    I did mention this, I just couldn’t find the ruling. http://www.vg247.com/2011/09/15/sony-changes-online-tos-and-user-agreement-to-prevent-class-action-suits/#comment-323769

    #1 4 years ago
  2. aprotosis

    Yeah, because individuals don’t have the money and influence to sue a large company like Sony. They need class status to have a chance in court. This move is just plain coroprate gluttony

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Christopher Jack

    @2, & that’s what America’s all about, they want the rich to get richer & the poor to get poorer. You know your economy is wack when a guy like Charlie Sheen was earning the annual wage of over 30 average people in a single week, celebrities need the biggest pay cuts followed by executives.

    It’s this irreplaceable attitude that these celebrities have that give them the arrogance to demand unreasonable salaries. Sure they maybe talented on the camera, but they sure as hell don’t earn what they receive.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Yoshi

    @3 Just like Britain is now with the Conservatives in power.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. viralshag

    @4, What #3 said can barely be linked with the Tory’s being in power. Amazingly enough, the rich were getting richer all throughout the time Labour were in charge too, if not more so when you look at the state of the banking industry.

    Britain hasn’t become what it is today in the short space since the Conservatives came back into power and 13 years is a long time to blame the Conservatives for what they did before.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Cygnar

    Class action suits cost time and money no matter who wins. Years of the discovery process and document production, the costs of court proceedings, and the need to pay attorneys during the entire procedure add up. Does anyone honestly think Sony wants to be embroiled in litigation for years, when it can use the law to escape that risk?

    Sony looked at the AT&T decision and saw a way out of these costs, which is to use a binding arbitration clause to preclude class action lawsuits. Binding arbitration is a court-like way of dispute resolution. If users agree to sony’s current EULA, they have to use this method instead of court proceedings.

    This might strike some of you as tyranny–after all, Sony is robbing consumers of their right to seek remedies at law, right? Well, not exactly. In the license agreement, if you have to travel to California in order to pursue arbitration, Sony agrees to pay your travel costs. It wouldn’t have to do this if the dispute went to an ordinary court. Sony agrees to pay for all your legal fees if you win against them. It wouldn’t have to do this if you went to court. Moreover, if you don’t agree to the binding arbitration terms of the EULA, you have thirty days to object in writing to that term, in which case the arbitration requirements do not apply to you at all. These are all very rare steps for a corporation like Sony to take. They are trying to ensure that the contract is fair, because if the arbitration part is unfair enough (or in a court’s words, “unconscionable”), it is unenforceable.

    With the arbitration agreement, if you have a winning claim against Sony, they pay your travel expenses and your attorney’s fees. Arbitration is faster than litigation. There are disadvantages; for example, there is no jury in an arbitration, decisions aren’t as easy to appeal, initial filing fees may be high, etc. But if these are that unpalatable to you, just object and the requirements do not apply to you.

    If the preclusion of class action suits is a bad idea (I think it probably is), then it is not the job of corporate entities to try and fix it. It is the job of courts and lawmakers to correct their own mistaken laws.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. DSB

    @6 Cool story bro.

    Nobody cares about the expenses or inconveniences involved with a lawsuit. That’s purely up to the respective parties in terms of how much money they want to invest in their claim and their defence.

    It’s not ever going to be a reason to circumvent the legal system, which everybody still retains a constitutional right to use however they please.

    Nobody forces anyone to take on a 10 million dollar legal team.

    All Sony is doing is throwing down obstacles for people to use the system, so they can A) Avoid being held accountable for their actions by a group of people affected and B) Save some of the money they’d have to pay to a class, which is really pretty reasonable if you were to say, negligently protect 70 million peoples personal information.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight

    @7

    Sony is not the first one to do this in fact if you own a cellphone, work for a company, paying a utility bill in the states you have signed a arbitration clause. All Lawyers are paid for is to find ways to circumvent the legal system.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. DSB

    @8 Well yeah, of course they wouldn’t be, and certainly not now while they can still lean on the AT&T and Walmart verdicts.

    More than anything else it’s an example of what happens when you get ideological zealots on a court that’s supposed to be loyal to the country and its laws.

    I hope the Mississippi attempt to overturn Roe v Wade doesn’t go through at this point. I don’t believe feti are people, until Texas executes one.

    (Ditto corporations)

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Cygnar

    @7
    First, expenses are important. If you want to sue someone who does business in another state, you may not have the option of suing them in a court near where you live. Did you know that by using either Windows or MacOS, you have agreed that you cannot sue Microsoft or Apple except in the court of their choosing? If you do not have the resources to bring suit in another state, you are unable to litigate your claim.

    Second, the Constitution applies to the Government, not to the people or companies with whom we contract. You may have rights to use the legal system, but you can give up these rights by signing them away in a contract. Don’t think you can? Take it up with the Supreme Court

    Third, Sony has no interest in making litigation easy or available to its customers when it can legally avoid them. If this is the result of bad law, it needs to go back to the federal courts, or better yet, to Congress. It’s not a profit-driven corporation’s job to defend our constitutional rights.

    As for your allegations that Sony is trying to avoid responsibility for the hacking incident, the EULA expressly excludes pre-existing class action suits from the new provisions. Sony cannot cut that suit off and it doesn’t try to with this contract.

    Lastly, I encourage you to object to the contract term if you don’t like it. It doesn’t have to apply to you, and if you aren’t in the United States, you can rest easy because it isn’t in your EULA and it can’t apply outside the US anyways.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. DSB

    @10 I’m not saying that the justice system hasn’t become so perverted that they can’t get away with it. Quite the contrary. It’s just a scumbag move, and the argument that you put up for it has no merit anywhere but in Sony’s accounting department.

    It’s not the governments job to protect Sony from the inconvenience and expense of legal action.

    It’s not Sony’s job to limit our rights.

    They can hide behind the law all they want, that still doesn’t make it less reprehensible. Just as the fact that you can opt out doesn’t make it less reprehensible that they’re trying to remove people from using that right.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Cygnar

    @11
    I don’t think you understand how much respect the American legal system has for freedom of contract. Choice of law, choice of forum, and even binding arbitration clauses are not unique to Sony. Nearly every large corporate entity you have done business with presents one-sided contracts that ask you to sign away your rights.

    For comparison’s sake, I direct you to the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use. Suppose that Microsoft employees intentionally and maliciously cut off your XBL service, cut off access to games that you purchased, and brick your Xbox, all in violation of the contract. According to Section 16, the maximum amount you can recover under the contract with Microsoft is “a total amount equal to your Service fee for one month.” In the US, that amount is as little as five dollars or less. The term “applies even if this remedy does not fully compensate you for any losses, [or if the term] fails of its essential purpose.” Is this term unfair? It sure is. Is it enforceable? You bet. Keep in mind that to get your $5 back, you need to pay your own way to King County, Washington State in order to go to court, according to Section 19, and you need to hire a lawyer to represent you.

    None of this makes the Sony contract good. But before you criticize one company’s contract as being uniquely bad, you should be aware that unfair contracts are absolutely everywhere, they are enforceable, and for-profit corporations are not interested in letting consumers sue them blind. If the law allows them to block suits or reduce their sting, they will take these measures.

    Peace

    #12 4 years ago
  13. lexph3re

    I love when legal topics arrise and Cygnar hits the forum’s. That guy has done his homework lol

    #13 4 years ago
  14. DSB

    Freedom of contract isn’t universal and it very much needs to adhere to the basic rights of people. Sadly, far too often those are a case of enterpretation at the hands of people who are picked more for their verdicts in line with political dogma, than their overall qualifications.

    I don’t see a company in Europe ever getting away with limiting peoples rights or ability to pursue legal action, even if it is just by adding pointless inconvenience as in this case.

    And of course it’s not just Sony, but it’s not hard to figure out why they’re being singled out in posts like these. Whoevers responsible for their PR strategy really isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    Why not let a little time pass before you remind people of the event of which we do not speak?

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Cygnar

    @14
    A number of countries in Europe have great consumer protection laws, and the USA lags behind them. I recall that in some countries, consumers could easily get a partial refund on PS3s for Sony’s removal of OtherOS, but in the States, there was nothing like that and there are probably still lawsuits about it. But, there are ways to challenge the contract or change the law if Sony uses the new rule to really screw people over. It’s a big theme in the US that the law usually gets things wrong before it gets them right, but I have my fingers crossed that this eventually turns out for the better.

    And I agree about the PR comment. Just because it’s legal for a company to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    #15 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • Far Cry 4 Complete Edition coming June 19 for PC, PS4 to the UK

    A Far Cry 4 Complete Edition has been announced and it includes the full game as well as the Season Pass. This is the sku which popped up on Amazon Germany earlier in the week. The Season Pass provides access to five separate pieces of DLC. Here’s a refresher on the DLC content: The Syringe: […]

  • The Witcher 3: live Q&A stream with CDP, new monster dev diary inside

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is out in just two weeks, and if you want to know more about Geralt’s latest adventure, CD Projekt is hosting a live Q&A now on Twitch. There’s also a new developer diary below which focuses on monster in the game. The Witcher 3 is out on May 19. Huzzah! […]

  • Forza Horizon 2′s Alpinestars Car Pack has five cars and is ready for download

    The Alpinestars Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 is out now on Xbox One and its the only way you will ever be able to afford a 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. Unless, of course, you win the lottery or are left in some rich person’s will. In that case, I’ll take the ’53 Corvette, […]

  • Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition is now available in North America

    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition has been released in North America. It will be made available in the Europe on May 7 and in the UK May 8 for £49.99 on consoles and £34.99 on PC. As previously announced, this edition contains all previously released DLC content as well as […]

  • Two GAME exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians now available for pre-order

    GAME has announced two exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians, and both are now available for pre-order exclusively through one of the retail chain’s 318 stores or online. The £79.99 Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians, which delivers new digital content wrapped in a steel book. There’s also the £199.99 Halo 5: Guardians Limited Collector’s Edition […]

  • Deals with Gold: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Bioshock Infinite, more

    Microsoft has announced its latest Deals with Gold discounts for Xbox Live Gold members. Franchises on sale include Far Cry, Call of Duty, along with individual titles Assassin’s Creed Unity and Bioshock Infinite. The full list is below. Bioshock Infinite discounts are available for both Xbox Live Gold and Silver members. Xbox One Far Cry […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has released, watch the launch trailer here

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has launched on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can watch the launch trailer for it below. Boxed copies in Europe arrive from May 15, and in Australia/New Zealand on May 14. You can grab digital copies from the following online services: Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Store.

  • GOG’s online service GOG Galaxy is now in open beta

    GOG Galaxy, the DRM-free online gaming platform from the folks at GOG, has left Alpha and is now in open beta for all to try. As previously announced, the online service, similar to Steam, is option. Players do not need to play online as all games are stored by the service and can be played […]

  • DayZ-inspired Goat Simulator DLC GoatZ is out this week on Steam

    Goat Simulator players can download DayZ-inspired DLC this week called GoatZ. According to Coffee Stain Studios, GoatZ is “the only survival game on Steam that isn’t in Early Access.” Jokingly of course. The DLC features: Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it. Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living […]

  • No, Far Cry 4 is not currently free on PSN

    You may have seen a few Tweets from people saying that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 is available to download from PSN for free. This is not true. A few readers have tipped us off to what looked like a glitch on PSN that allowed players to download the full version of Far […]

  • Metal Gear Solid: The 1984 Collection confirmed to be a clothing line

    Konami is teasing a Metal Gear Solid thing called “The 1984 Collection.” The Metal Gear Solid Facebook page posted this image about an hour ago: The caption reads, “Step back into the 80′s with our new MGS collection coming very soon! Stay tuned!” This is supposedly in reference to the clothing line that was announced […]

  • Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World & Scooby Doo packs listed for Lego Dimensions

    Lego Dimensions is likely getting a few unannounced content packs. One of which is themed around Valve’s Portal. A set of unannounced content packs for the upcoming Lego Dimensions have been revealed by US retailer Walmart. The listings include packs for The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Jurassic World, and most interestingly, Portal. The listings have […]

  • This is the most authentic recreation of GTA 2 in real life ever

    Affordable drones have many uses. Most of them are not nearly as exciting as recreating GTA 2 in real life. I am surprised it took us this long, but someone has finally captured footage using a drone that resembles the protagonist’s experience in the classic GTA 2. These aren’t just shots of cars from a […]

  • PlayStation 4 sales reach 2m in the UK

    Sony has sold 2 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the UK, faster than it did with the PlayStation 2 – the company’s best-selling machine in the country. MCVUK is reporting that as of last weekend, 2 million PlayStation 4s have been sold in the UK. The data is based on GfK Chart-Track estimates. This makes […]

  • H1Z1 gets female characters, skin colour options planned

    In an effort to improve diversity in the game, H1Z1 developer has added female characters. Female survivors can now be found throughout the world of H1Z1. Developer Daybreak added the new feature in a patch released last Friday. You will be able to choose a female avatar in the main game and in Battle Royale. […]

  • Possible teaser site for Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi’s new game opens

    Either Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi is working on a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter for his new game, or someone is pulling an elaborate prank. At PAX Prime last year, during Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 panel, a flyer was handed out to attendees that showed what appeared to be a 2D game of some sort with […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for May 5: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    Tuesday is here and Destiny’s weekly reset is also here. Bungie announced that your weekly Destiny grind has now begun. The Nightfall and Heroic strikes are now live too. This week’s strike is Winter’s Run. Rainbow burn is back for the Nightfall, which means you do more damage with all elemental weapons, but also receive […]

  • PC version of Project Cars delayed in Australia due to severe weather

    Recent weather conditions in Sydney, Australia are responsible for a slight delay of the PC version of Project Cars in the country. Sydney recently suffered from storms that caused flooding in some areas. One of those is the place where publisher Namco Bandai was storing PC copies of Project Cars. The stock was “severely damaged,” […]

  • Twitch’s new process makes it easier for streamers to appeal flagged content

    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]