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Sony Sued Over Changes To Online Terms of Service
Sony Sued Over Changes To Online Terms of Service
December 20, 2011 | By Mike Rose

A man in Northern California has filed a lawsuit against Sony over the recently revised terms of service and user agreement for its online services, alleging that the company is conducting unfair business with consumers.

In September, the company inserted a new section into its ToS that stated users cannot enter into a class action lawsuit against Sony unless Sony agrees to the initiation.

This move came in the wake of the PlayStation Network breach earlier this year, during which millions of user accounts on Sony's onlive services were compromised by a cyber attack.

New court documents obtained by Gamasutra, and filed late last month, are on behalf of all those customers who owned a PSN account before the changes to the ToS occurred.

The suit alleges that Sony is forcing PSN users to effectively give up access to online privileges they had already paid for, or give up the right to file a lawsuit against the company.

It also suggests that Sony purposely buried the new clause near the bottom of the ToS and made it difficult to access the form online.

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Ben Garcia
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You're not giving up your right to sue, just the right to enter into class action suits. Besides, it's not terribly different than when you go someplace and you need to sign a waiver to dismiss the host of legal liabilities. (e.g. when I go to my local shooting range, there's a waiver dismissing the range from legal liability if some idiot shoots me by accident or vice versa).

Martin Crownover
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But there is a limit to the amount of rights you can waive. The gun range might tell you that you're not allowed to sue them or whatever, but if you wind up getting injured and they are negligent in some egregious way, you can sure them despite any waivers you signed.

In Sony's case, it seems more like an attempt to divert responsibility for security problems more than anything else, and I don't see why anyone would try to defend their doing that. Should they be able to run a crappy, unsecured network that harbors all of your personal information and then just throw up their arms and shrug if someone breaks in again? That's awful.

Lyon Medina
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No one is defending Sony. It's defending the right of a business (any business) to conduct business as they see fit. Just because something is really Un-Fair, does not mean it is against the law.



It's not about Sony in this case. It's about conducting business, transactions, buy something to get something in return. If you don't want to agree how they do business then you should make the choice not too.

evan c
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So this guy is suing Sony for not allowing him to sue them?

Kostas Yiatilis
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Terms of Service is just that. It's not LAW. A lot of companies and individuals think that a signed contract is above law. I have news: it isn't. If you are a crappy company and you have hurt your clients, no TOS will save you, it will just make the naive or easily intimidated go away.

That's what they are for really. To stop every nut doing this. In reality if someone is serious enough no TOS will stop him.

Do you think that because you sign a TOS-NDA or whatever you can't talk about mistreatment?

You can, you will just be sued by the company and the company will of course have to explain to the judge why you should shut up. The TOSes and NDAs are the company's way of hodling something over you. This way they have some way to counter act any allegations.

Depending on what happened to you though they will get their ass handed to them. The TOSes and NDAs compnanies write are not above the law, it just limits abuse, by making you think twice.

If something is serious enough no private contract will stand.

wes bogdan
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So 1st they block us from class action then drop our 5 systems to 2 all this AFTER being hacked and offline what a year for sony.

Aleks Castaneda
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I registered just so i could say this; The Fair Credit Billing Act of '75 give us the right to file a class action lawsuit on top of that it's illegal in the state of California for some one to sign over their rights.

I was going to this my self when I found out about the FCBA of '75 when I was looking up laws for TOS because it was bull that they would only allow me to download my videos on my psp go (which I don't have anymore) and refused to show them on my account, Found out that doesn't reflect proper payment and is against the law. sure their just screwing me out of $6 but think about the big picture, I'm not the only person that have bought videos which means a possible $6 million is being stolen by them. I even had to yell at them yesterday because I couldn't download my new resistance 3 dlc on another ps3 due to the fact i had to go online deactivate all ps3 to deactivate a dead one and activated another (it wont let me download my old dlc onto 5 ps3 like it should).

Lyon Medina
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@The Fair Credit Billing Act of '75

Your stating crimes versus business practices. Large difference sadly and what was done to those people fails very large in comparison to what your trying to go for.

@ Your other statement

I am confused by your statment below that, what happened? Are they denying you your content?

Bart Stewart
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The top story fails to include an important point.

In the Concepcion case, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit decision (again) -- as previously discussed in depth here at Gamasutra -- to rule that the "no class action lawsuits" term only applies if a company (such as Sony) does not offer to settle individual claims in binding arbitration.

So Sony's TOS doesn't prevent individuals from being compensated for whatever damages they can prove to a neutral arbitrator. I have no idea why this California guy thinks this latest challenge is going to go anywhere.

Harry Fields
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Some people just have nothing better to do with their time, I suppose....

Back to work, go now, I must.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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The problem is that there is no such thing as a "neutral" arbitrator. Arbitration companies are selected by the corporation you are dealing with before you've even signed the contract, not randomly and certainly not by the consumer. Care to guess which kind of arbitrator a corporation is going to pick -- one that historically sides with consumers, or one that historically sides with corporations? And care to guess who the arbitrator is marketing themselves to -- Joe Workman whose salary barely covers necessities or Big Business, sitting on millions of dollars.

Given the explicit nature of business to be unapologetically self-interested over being fair, common sense should reveal why this is a bad thing for consumers. However, there has also been research done to prove what common sense leads us to:

"In a sample of 19,300 cases, arbitrators ruled in favor of consumers 5 percent of the time"

"Absolutely not. The consumer wins four percent of the time. What we found is that the businesses got their win 94-percent of the time. That's stunning."

This is ignoring the fact that binding arbitration forces a consumer into an individual battle against the company. If my PS3 overheats and damages some other property of mine, I would have an easier time affording to go to trial in a class action suit with everyone else that suffered the same fate. If I am forced into binding arbitration judged by a company paid by the company I am trying to sue with a 5% chance of success, why even bother?

EDIT: I want to add that those above numbers are from California arbitration cases, as that is the only state where arbitration is made public by law. Which is another scary aspect - would you want to go to "court" against someone who stole your TV when the "judge" is his best friend and the results of the case are to be held private?