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Court rules that Sony was within its rights to change PSN's Terms of Service
Court rules that Sony was within its rights to change PSN's Terms of Service
April 5, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

April 5, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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    12 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against Sony, and ruled that the platform holder was free to change the terms of service for users accessing PlayStation Network last September.

Sony revised its TOS and user agreement for its online services several months ago, making PSN users waive their right to enter into a class action lawsuit against the company unless it agrees to the initiation.

A man in Northern California filed a lawsuit against Sony soon afterward, alleging unfair competition, as the new TOS forced him to either waive his valuable right to pursue class action litigation or lose access to PSN.

The court found that the plaintiff losing that right was an insufficient argument for his unfair competition claim, as it did not actually cause him any economic harm, according to documents posted by Technology and Marketing Law Blog.

"Plaintiff himself explains that 'if' defendants engage in 'wrongdoing' in the future, he will only be able to seek relief in an individual arbitration which is 'unlikely' to be cost effective," said U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.

"However, plaintiff cannot allege that defendants will engage in wrongdoing in the future, that he would pursue a remedy for that unknown wrongdoing, or that the type of harm he suffered would not be cost effective to resolve through an individual arbitration."

The plaintiff also said that if he had declined the new TOS, he would no longer be able to access PSN, which he believed devalued his PS3, as he purchased his system with expectations of being able to play on the service.

Judge Illston also dismissed that argument, and noted that the plaintiff had already admitted to accepting the new TOS in order to avoid losing access to PSN. After reviewing and shooting down all of the plaintiff's claims, the court granted Sony's motion to dismiss the lawsuit last February.

Sony isn't the only platform holder that's forced users to accept an updated and controversial TOS -- last December, Microsoft also amended its Xbox 360 TOS, making users also agree to waive their right to join an Xbox 360 class action lawsuit targeting Microsoft if they want to continue using their consoles.


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Comments


Radek Koncewicz
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The argument that the updated ToS devalues the console is valid, but I suppose the fact that the plaintiff accepted it undercut the suit's premise.

"...making PSN users waive their right to enter into a class action lawsuit against the company unless it agrees to the initiation."

Got to love that end-bit stipulation.

Kyle Redd
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I'm unclear on one part of these new TOS agreements that everyone's adopting - if we *do* decline to accept them, do we then lose access to all of the games we've already bought up to that point? If that's the case, then I think these lawsuits should be given more credibility than they have been.

David Brown
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The suit seemed to come at this from the wrong angle... unfortunately. Sony really screwed up with the PS3. They aren't using it's power, they've patched out functionality several times, scrapped backwards compatibility... and are now limiting users rights in every way they can. Quite disappointing. I was a huge PS2 fan, but I definitely done with Sony now, no PS4 for me. I just really wish there was a competitor in the market who was for the people, but I smirk even as I write this because that doesn't sound like a corporation that makes money.

Patrick Davis
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"I just really wish there was a competitor in the market who was for the people"

Nintendo? That's about as close as you are going to get.

Isaac Chandler
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I wouldn't really consider Nintendo "for the people". They've given their loyal fanbase the finger many a time, especially as of late. I still like Sony, I grew up with their consoles, so I'll stick with them. Things will get better with the next console. After all, every console maker makes a bad console at some point

Isaac Chandler
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I wouldn't really consider Nintendo "for the people". They've given their loyal fanbase the finger many a time, especially as of late. I still like Sony, I grew up with their consoles, so I'll stick with them. Things will get better with the next console. After all, every console maker makes a bad console at some point

A W
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Although I'm sure Patrick's statement about Nintendo being more for the people, could be understood as a lack of knowledge on his part about the role of consumer rights vs. Nintendo past practices. I However would like Isaac to submit some facts that back up his "middle finger" claims. Google it is not a good start for answer, and at some point all will be like this is not a good point for a conclusion.

Adam Bishop
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The judge's statements are nonsensical:

"However, plaintiff cannot allege that defendants will engage in wrongdoing in the future"

How would the plaintiff know what Sony is going to do in the future? The point of the new wording is to set Sony up to prevent itself from being the target of class-action lawsuits in the case of future wrongdoings - *Sony accepts the possibility of future wrongdoing* or they wouldn't institute the waiver in the first place. The plaintiff should not have to prove that a specific wrongdoing will occur *in the future*. I mean, this is crazy. Is a law only valid if you can prove that a specific crime will be committed by a specific individual?

"Judge Illston also dismissed that argument, and noted that the plaintiff had already admitted to accepting the new TOS in order to avoid losing access to PSN."

THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE LAWSUIT. The argument is that Sony shouldn't be allowed to require user's to waive their rights. If an employer required you to agree to let them chop off your right arm in order to keep your job, and you bring the case before this judge, would he say "Well, you're still working for them, so obviously you don't really want the arm"?!?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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This judge is an idiot. Well, I will continue exercising my rights to no longer turn on my PS3 or buy any more games for the system, but the real problem isn't Sony -- it's precedence. Surprise surprise, MS already jumped on the bandwagon. What's next, customers have to sign away their rights to sue period? Corporations dip their toes in the water with entertainment product TOS's which courts will shrug off because they aren't "essentials", then as precedence gets set corporations start putting clauses like this in more and more TOS's. Soon it is simply the norm that you can't sue a corporation period. Corporations are people? No, they are becoming gods.

This is at least as big as SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/whatever acronym they are trying to utilize to give corporations control of the internet, I wish more people were talking about it.

[User Banned]
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Joe Zachery
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So in other words if Sony get attacked again by hackers. Who then steal people's credit card information, and Sony decides to wait hmm a week to tell their consumers. You can't sue them form failing to protect your information as the TOS states they would when you agree to use their service.

A W
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The Sony hack may have caused problems that have yet to be reveal which make the new TOS rules disturbing. Even though I changed my password post hack as required to use the PSN, I was still re prompted to change my password in early March of this year again when I discovered that I was unable to log into the PSN do to a invalid password error. Provided my new PW was stored in the PSN I still had to go through the website to change it for a 2nd time. I was contemplating if someone did not claim my PSN name and request a new PW under me to see if I had credit card info stored on my PSN. Luckily I had removed that info post hack so there was nothing of value to steal.


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