UPDATE: If you're having trouble getting the submission form to work, it should be fixed now.
If you agreed to the most recent Terms of Service (aka EULA) rolled out for Sony's PlayStation Network or Electronic Arts' Origin services, you've agreed to lose the right to collectively sue either corporation in order to keep accessing each service.
"By accepting these terms, you and EA expressly waive the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action," reads the latest update for Origin. "This agreement is intended to be interpreted broadly."
This does not apply worldwide. As pointed out in the Origin agreement, by legal precedent, Quebec, Russia, Switzerland and the Member States of the European Union (click here for a complete list of said states) users retain their rights.
You do have one option in both cases, however: send a letter within 30 days of agreement saying you wish to retain your rights. Until recently, there is no way to electronically agree to opt-out. The cynical viewpoint would be how this encourages consumers to simply click "I agree" and forget about the rights they're waiving away.
Chicago-based Gamers Opt Out (www.gamersoptout.com) are making it easier with an electronic means to retain your rights.
Running on donations, Gamers Opt Out allows you to submit your information and it will physically send the opt-out letter for you. Getting a letter sent doesn't cost a thing.
"I thought of the idea after first hearing about the new Sony PSN opt-out clause but didn't think much of it until it came to light that Origin had the same one," said organizer Matt "Jaku" Jakubowski over email.
Jakubowski contacted two good friends to help--Travis "Exiva" La Marr and Kate Walquist. The trio has been working on getting the website online since September 23, and it finally launched on Monday.
There are other contributors to handle logistics, including another individual that's actually named Matt Jakubowski, too. Amazing.
Class actions allow consumers to speak in a singular voice. Each company is hoping to handle these complaints on an individual basis, thus without the possibility of a sympathetic jury. Arbitration cases are typically overseen by retired judges. These clauses are the result of an April decision by the Supreme Court to allow AT&T's to include similar clauses in employee contracts.
"A lot of commenters seem to all mention that 'This EULA wouldn't hold up in court anyways,' and I agree," said Jakubowski. "But it's not about that. The point is that Sony & EA put these clauses in and are being sneaky about it. They don't expect people to send the opt-outs and you know what 90% of the people won't. What we are trying to do is stand up for ourselves as gamers and show these companies that they can't do this to us and that we don't agree with what they are doing."
The plan is to send out the first letters today. As of last night, Jakubowski hoped to send 1,000 letters related to PSN but was currently a few hundred short. The team will send letters as long as it has cash to do so.
Jakubowski said Gamers Opt Out had raised about $600 so far. Contributors have the option to display their donation on the website, either attributed to a real name or a Internet handle. Jakubowski is the largest so far, having poured $60 of his own money, which will result in the sending of 263 letters. Ghalidrim is not far behind, though, having donated $50--or 219 letters.
"If we run out of donations I'll most likely be donating a bit more so that we can take more letters in if it comes to that," he said. "But sadly if we don't get a steady amount we won't be able to run the site forever."
It's expected Origin and PSN are only the start of more services incorporating these clauses, and Gamers Opt Out will adapt as they change. Jakubowski estimates it would take 24 hours per service.
The group has reached out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and at least two other lawyers, out of worries about the legality of being a third-party for individually centered opt-out letters. The fear would be that these letters would not count, since they were not sent by the individual themselves. As far as Gamers Opt Out can tell, however, since the agreements do not ban this, it's in the clear so far.
Gamers Opt Out has not contacted Sony or Microsoft, nor has it heard from either company.
"We don't feel that there is a reason to contact them at this time," said Jakubowski. "Since they are both huge corporations we just don't have the time to try and find the right person. If they want to talk, our group is easy to find and get in touch with."