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Sony's Asking You to Waive Your Rights, But You Have Options

Keep your legal rights by sending a letter--we even made a template! Plus, a lawyer questions whether this will even hold up.

Agreeing toPSN's new Terms of Service waives certain legal rights, unless you mail a letter.

UPDATE: Some users pointed out this wouldn't apply worldwide, as laws are in place elsewhere to protect consumers from this. Kotaku Australia confirmed it won't apply to Europe or Australia.

ORIGINAL STORY: When I booted up NFL Sunday Ticket to watch the Chicago Bears on Sunday (which worked fine this week), Sony asked me to agree to an updated Terms of Service to access PlayStation Network. Standard stuff. We blindly agree to these things all the time, but this time, it's different.

Sony is asking you to waive the right to collectively sue them, and instead resolve any disputes individually through another process called arbitration (read: outside of the courts).

Sony has not revealed why it's implemented this change, but it's easy to guess it's in response to PSN security imploding back in April, exposing the personal data of 75 million PSN accounts. It was a total disaster.

Within days after admitting PSN had been compromised, the company had been sued, that time by 36-year-old Kristopher Johns of Birmingham, Ala, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Below is the legal excerpt causing a stir, but you can read the entire updated Terms of Service right here.

"Any dispute resolution proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action or as a named or unnamed member in a class, consolidated, representative or private attorney general legal action, unless both you and the Sony entity with which you have a dispute specifically agree to do so in writing following initiation of the arbitration. This provision does not preclude your participation as a member in a class action filed on or before August 20, 2011."

If you don't agree, you cannot continue to play games online. That's a hard bargain.

The reason people bring class action lawsuits against companies runs under the the same principles governing unions: power in numbers. One person's going to have a tough time staring down a giant corporation, but if thousands or millions of people are speaking together, there's a chance it'll listen. Having the discussion happen behind-closed-doors doesn't help matters.

This effectively cuts group action off at the knees.

Sony's likely buried the opt-out option in this update to discourage anyone from opting-out.

"This really sort of sucks because it is doubtful that any individual could afford to sue them," explained Washington attorney Thomas Buscaglia, who specializes in games. "Not sure how enforceable it will be, but I think it it would be really cool if gamers started to circulate a form opt out rejection of these terms and mailed them in."

As it turns out, there's an opt-out buried in the Terms of Service, but if you've already signed off on the updated Terms of Service, you need to act quickly; Sony's built a countdown into the agreement itself.

"If you do not wish to be bound by the binding arbitration and class action waiver in this Section 15," reads the Terms of Service, "you must notify SNEI [Sony Network Entertainment] in writing within 30 days of the date that you accept this agreement."

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

To retain your right to participate in class action lawsuits, you must send the company a letter with your name, address, PSN account and a "clear statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with any Sony entity through arbitration." Once you have that letter prepared, print it out and mail it here:

6080 Center Drive
10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Attn: Legal Department/Arbitration
Attn: Sony Legal Department: Dispute Resolution

I'll even make things easier: here's a document I created you can use as your personal template.

What happens next isn't clear.

Sony has provided all 75 million and counting members of PSN a clear way to maintain their existing rights, but by asking everyone to agree to ditching those rights in order to continue using PSN and asking them to mail a letter to keep them, they've ensured most will have given them away. That's assuming the majority of users are even aware something substantive has changed; how often have you seen an email full of legal mumbo jumbo, pretended to read it, then quickly deleted it?

That said, Sony's move could run into problems, regardless of whether you send in a letter or not.

"This is certainly not standard practice by any standards...in fact it may well not be enforceable," said Buscaglia. "Time will tell on that one. The US Federal Trade Commission and various state consumer protection agencies could have a problem with it. Also, some courts might not allow it to be enforced due to existing state court precedent."

Even if this move wouldn't hold up in court (ironic!), it may scare off anyone from trying, which would make it a success.

As Buscaglia said, time will tell. In the meantime, maybe you should go buy some stamps.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
328 Comments
Posted by GaspoweR
Posted by rpratts

Thank you Sir

Posted by Boiglenoight

@DASH said:

I have to just say, Patrick is doing a great job with the news.

Man, no doubt. It wasn't bad before, but Patrick's mix of news and editorial is just what Giant Bomb's news section needed.

Posted by kycinematic

Sony is messing up again and again. I don't know how yall with a ps3 can put up with it.

And hurray of course America has consumer protection only in name so Sony can just do anything they please as long as you click "accept" on some 15 page unintelligible legal document

ps. Fuck you first post your an idiot

Posted by Mars_Cleric

We may not have Mortal Kombat here, but at least this shit is kept at bay.

Posted by nsnsmj

AT&T did the same thing not too long ago, as did a number of other companies. But yeah, this is only for America.

Posted by rempresent

Thanks for putting this up, I am going to send my letter out tomorrow morning.

Posted by JQuizzle

@Cyrisaurus: I agree with mostly what you say, but if we the people should not let a Giant Corporations take over our rights. WE must stand as one and let them know that this is WRONG! Because once your rights are gone they are very hard to get back.

Edited by vinsanityv22

Of course this is Patrick who wrote this. Ugh.

Just sign the damn EULA and not act like a douche. No one wants a repeat of the PSN Blackout sh*t. Sony's completely in their right to do what they want with their product. I'm really sick of this litigious thinking in this country. "I bought it, I can fuck up everyone's experience and sue the company because it's mine!". Ugh.

STFU Patrick. You're not waiving your rights by agreeing to do this so much as agreeing not to sue Sony for anything and to not act like a royal d-bag online; something you shouldn't aspire to be doing anyway unless you're George "I'm the biggest asshole on Earth" Hotz. I'm assuming he's a personal hero of yours, dipshit? C'mon Patrick!

Don't put stupid ideas in people's heads, about having options or whether some lawyer thinks this might not hold up in court. Find SOME GAMES TO WRITE ABOUT, man! Shit - you even whipped up a template? Stop being a bleeding heart hippie about "the business" behind video games, and just start being a good consumer. You only write articles about shit like this!

Posted by ArchTeckGuru8

Good article... i just hope i remember to do this next time i turn on my PS3

Posted by thebigJ_A

@vinsanityv22 said:

Of course this is Patrick who wrote this. Ugh.

Just sign the damn EULA and not act like a douche. No one wants a repeat of the PSN Blackout sh*t. Sony's completely in their right to do what they want with their product. I'm really sick of this litigious thinking in this country. "I bought it, I can fuck up everyone's experience and sue the company because it's mine!". Ugh.

STFU Patrick. You're not waiving your rights by agreeing to do this so much as agreeing not to sue Sony for anything and to not act like a royal d-bag online; something you shouldn't aspire to be doing anyway unless you're George "I'm the biggest asshole on Earth" Hotz. I'm assuming he's a personal hero of yours, dipshit? C'mon Patrick!

Don't put stupid ideas in people's heads, about having options or whether some lawyer thinks this might not hold up in court. Find SOME GAMES TO WRITE ABOUT, man! Shit - you even whipped up a template? Stop being a bleeding heart hippie about "the business" behind video games, and just start being a good consumer. You only write articles about shit like this!

Yup, just bend over and take it. Corporations love consumers like you.

"I bought it, I can fuck up everyone's experience and sue the company because it's mine!" What does this even mean? Who's saying anything like that? How is protecting yourself in court fucking up people's experiences? You apparently have a weak grasp of what happened, who caused it, and what litigation is.

Guy, you're signing over your right to defend yourself if Sony ever fucks you over. If you're cool with that, fine. Us better educated people are glad Patrick informed us.

Posted by chubbs21

@vinsanityv22: I smell a troll in here.....

Posted by Dain22

Really pleased to see this story being covered. Kudos Patrick.

For a deeper look into the issues of arbitration, suing, and other topics concerning one's legal rights in America, I'd highly recommend checking out the documentary entitled "Hot Coffee" on HBO.

Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx

IT'S A FUCKING VIDEO GAME CONSOLE PLAY ONLINE AND ENJOY YOURSELF  
 
YOU'LL NEVER SUE SONY FOR 1TRILLION DOLLARS AND BE RICH THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID
Posted by SeriouslyNow

@Cyrisaurus said:

I clicked agree, and moved on. You know why? Because I just want to play games online. I don't have any intentions of going out of my way to try and sue some major company.

And you know what? I doubt anyone else does too. I guarantee you that 100% of the people who complain about this have no intentions of suing Sony (and probably don't own a PS3). Some people just like to bitch because they think "Hur I'm an American, you can't take my rights". If Sony issued a new ToS stating that you were not allowed to stab yourself in the eye with a fork, there would be thousands of people raging over the situation acting like Sony is evil, just like this situation.

Newsflash, nobody lost their CC info from the PSN attacks, or suffered any long-term effects. So it would be best for people to move on, and just play some damn video games

Other people will debate with whereas I'll just tell you the truth:-

You're a moron and you just did the moral equivalent of stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork.

Posted by Enigma777

@Tarsier said:

good thing i dont have a sony playstation and never have.

i always knew these guys were crooks.

QQ more

Edited by chrissedoff

only the most craven, bought-and-paid-for judges in the land would ever uphold this sinister little trick. which is to say, at least half of them.

Posted by foggel

I'll send a letter, hoping to help overflow the mail department:P

Posted by PrivateIronTFU

How are we going to send these letters once the USPS shuts down? I'm not sending a shitty little letter through FedEx!

Posted by Gerhabio

@Cyrisaurus said:

I clicked agree, and moved on. You know why? Because I just want to play games online. I don't have any intentions of going out of my way to try and sue some major company.

And you know what? I doubt anyone else does too. I guarantee you that 100% of the people who complain about this have no intentions of suing Sony (and probably don't own a PS3). Some people just like to bitch because they think "Hur I'm an American, you can't take my rights". If Sony issued a new ToS stating that you were not allowed to stab yourself in the eye with a fork, there would be thousands of people raging over the situation acting like Sony is evil, just like this situation.

Newsflash, nobody lost their CC info from the PSN attacks, or suffered any long-term effects. So it would be best for people to move on, and just play some damn video games

That doesn't mean it can't happen in the future. I don't give up my right to sue any company that stores my credit card information, why would I do so for Sony? I won't sue them for nothing but I certainly would like to do so if they made me lose a significant amount of money.

@Patrick Thanks, this is helpful.

Posted by Enigma777

@Tarsier said:

@Enigma777 said:

@Tarsier said:

good thing i dont have a sony playstation and never have.

i always knew these guys were crooks.

QQ more

nice job inserting a random meme into a post in a way that has no relevance whatsoever

Thanks.

Posted by kingzetta
@xaLieNxGrEyx said:
IT'S A FUCKING VIDEO GAME CONSOLE PLAY ONLINE AND ENJOY YOURSELF   YOU'LL NEVER SUE SONY FOR 1TRILLION DOLLARS AND BE RICH THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID
I agree
Posted by AceBlack19

I appreciate the template. Nice! This is why you get paid the big bucks Patrick.

Posted by SeriouslyNow

@xaLieNxGrEyx said:

IT'S A FUCKING VIDEO GAME CONSOLE PLAY ONLINE AND ENJOY YOURSELF YOU'LL NEVER SUE SONY FOR 1TRILLION DOLLARS AND BE RICH THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID

Yay for children who have access to technology. Our future is so bright. That was sarcasm. I need to clarify this because you come across as someone who is poorly educated and possibly mentally deficient.

Posted by EchoEcho

I might have had something to say about this, but after reading through every page of comments on this article, I'm not so sure I want to get involved. Some seriously angry people up in here.

Posted by kingzetta
@SeriouslyNow said:

@xaLieNxGrEyx said:

IT'S A FUCKING VIDEO GAME CONSOLE PLAY ONLINE AND ENJOY YOURSELF YOU'LL NEVER SUE SONY FOR 1TRILLION DOLLARS AND BE RICH THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID

Yay for children who have access to technology. Our future is so bright. That was sarcasm. I need to clarify this because you come across as someone who is poorly educated and possibly mentally deficient.

Well come on you gotta see it from all angles. People freaking out about this is a little ridiculous. Are the people that bitch about this the same people that tried to sue over the "install other OS" being taken away? Are they still the same people that bitch about DLC? 
Edited by SeriouslyNow

@kingzetta said:

@SeriouslyNow said:

@xaLieNxGrEyx said:

IT'S A FUCKING VIDEO GAME CONSOLE PLAY ONLINE AND ENJOY YOURSELF YOU'LL NEVER SUE SONY FOR 1TRILLION DOLLARS AND BE RICH THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID

Yay for children who have access to technology. Our future is so bright. That was sarcasm. I need to clarify this because you come across as someone who is poorly educated and possibly mentally deficient.

Well come on you gotta see it from all angles. People freaking out about this is a little ridiculous. Are the people that bitch about this the same people that tried to sue over the "install other OS" being taken away? Are they still the same people that bitch about DLC?

Nobody is bitching about this and nobody is money grubbing over the idea of becoming rich from suing Sony. Class action suits rarely end in people being rich, mostly, if won, they end with the corporations having to offer some nominal amount per person which adds up to some arbitrary number which barely affects the running costs of that corporation for that year. People are being informed by a person whose job it is to inform them and some people are reacting to his work as if he's insulted them. I understand if some of the words I've used are big. I'm sorry.

Posted by kingzetta
@SeriouslyNow: Bitchy condensation is not good karma either.
Posted by SeriouslyNow

@kingzetta said:

@SeriouslyNow: Bitchy condensation is not good karma either.

Condescension. I know, it's another big word.

Posted by kingzetta
@SeriouslyNow said:

@kingzetta said:

@SeriouslyNow: Bitchy condensation is not good karma either.

Condescension. I know, it's another big word.

See doesn't it feel good, now strike me down and complete your journey to the daaarthside.
Posted by dagas

@xaLieNxGrEyx said:

IT'S A FUCKING VIDEO GAME CONSOLE PLAY ONLINE AND ENJOY YOURSELF YOU'LL NEVER SUE SONY FOR 1TRILLION DOLLARS AND BE RICH THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID

It's not about being rich, it's about them making a good product. If they have no fear of a lawsuit then they can do whatever they want. It's a matter of taking responsibilty. What if the government said "Agree to our terms of service that we can screw you over as much as we want and you cannot do anything about it."

Suing is not about money, even if some people especially in the US seem to see it as a way of getting rich, it's about companies being responsible for their actions. When they step out of line they are sued. If no one can sue them, then they can do whatever the want.

Posted by Rekt_Hed

This story makes me want to not agree to the conditions just so I can sue sony....but that involves effort and uncharted 3 is pretty close sooooooooooo - eh - Think ill just blindly agree LIKE THE SHEEP I AM BAAAAAAHAHAH BAAAAAAAHHAHA

Good story though Pat hatrick

Posted by Katkillad

@Cyrisaurus said:

Newsflash, nobody lost their CC info from the PSN attacks, or suffered any long-term effects. So it would be best for people to move on, and just play some damn video games

Incorrect, personally i forgot my ps3 account password was the same as my xbox live password and now i've had $100+ dollars charged from my bank account because my 360 account got hacked. Those were the only two accounts that used that password and there's no other place that password could have been obtained.

So my credit card info was used against me... all because sony had a security breach. Lets say that didn't even happen, you'd be surprised how much you can do with a person's full name, address, and phone number... So don't talk like it's not a big deal to lose millions of users information like it's just another day. Sony has the responsibility to keep that information secure...and now they want you to sign an agreement saying you won't sue AFTER the fact that they already screwed up and a class action lawsuit is inevitable? Right... that's someone i'll keep doing business with. /sarcasm

Also i think everyone needs to relax and stop condensating on people.

Posted by mustardfacial

Signed. I have no intention of suing Sony. But fuck them for trying this shit.

Edited by BitterAlmond

Goddamned Sony. Trying to take our rights. We ought to sue them for that.

Edited by Brackynews

@Katkillad said:

Also i think everyone needs to relax and stop condensating on people.

You win. :) ISWYDT.

Posted by KestrelPi

Perhaps we should send the letters in big boxes. They'll LOVE THAT.

Posted by Hilts

If I was a US citizen I would definitively be sending my letter to Sony. If they receive enough of these letters maybe it will make them think twice about pulling these stunts in the future and take some responsibility for their 'customers'.

Posted by AkIRA_22

USA! USA! USA!

Posted by rflx

The template document has a typo. It says "Attn: Legal Department/Abitration"

That's my only contribution to this story.

Posted by Lunar_Aura

I'm sorry but I have no empathy for people who still put their real information on PSN after the whole debacle. Fake info and PSN money card should be the only option.

Why even give them a reason to sue? Game anonymously, my brothers!

Edited by studnoth1n

@Cyrisaurus: i actually do agree with this to some extent. the reason being is that the ps3 (or any console for that matter) doesn't really offer anything that i couldn't easily walk away from. however, i can't say to any certainty that that climate won't change over the years and become more pervasive and harder to avoid. regardless of the topic, critical thinking should always be left in the on position.

Posted by SonicFire

You really think that your "rights" are protected through class actions? That's a little naive; were you hoping to get that sweet 2 dollars for suing Sony into oblivion the next time the PSN goes down? Note that sony cannot waive rights to things like strict liability (say, if your PS3 randomly explodes and hurts you).

For anything large enough to initiate a class action, the negative press alone is going to be way more damaging. Take, for instance, the Rockstar hot coffee debacle. That class action was an afterthought at best, which was deserving of its own mockery, but the negative press was incredible.

Look, I'm not trying to defend sony, but I get a little peeved when I see headlines like this. It's just puffed up; there's NOTHING unusual about arbitration agreements in product licenses.

Posted by haggis

It's the principle of the thing: Sony is trying to avoid responsibility for its failures. While I doubt many have the intention of suing the company, it's a signal that Sony doesn't have confidence in its product. Now it's trying to cover its ass. At some level I understand this response, but it's a bit irritating. The fact that some people abuse the right to sue doesn't mean the right means nothing or isn't worth defending. Companies that try to do this sort of thing really ought to be penalized in some way. But in the end I suspect class action suits would go forward despite the clause: judges won't look kindly on trying to sneak something like this past their customers.

I'll send the letter. Truth is, I'd never have considered suing Sony, either individually or in a class action suit. But it's just one more way they've pissed me off. It's an unforced error on their part. And not by any means the first time they've done so. :/

Posted by laugurinn

Dick Move Dicks!

Posted by kpaadet

I knew is was written by Patrick the second I read the headline, taking something and blowing it way out of proportion seems to be his M.O., you dont have to be a laywer to know this wont hold up in court. Terms of Services are not legal binding. I am really not liking what Patrick Klepek is turning Giantbomb into.

Posted by SpicyRichter

@Cyrisaurus: How do you know? It's only been a few months...

Posted by TheGubbins

As it's been said, Sony are no different to any other corporation that others an online service/payment system. All these services have terms that try to protect the provider (Sony) from the users (the PSN account holders).

If the security Sony used was clearly substandard and it resulted in users loosing money then those individuals still can file a personal lawsuit against Sony (and likely win). In fact, in those cases companies like Sony would settle early on as they would be clearly at fault.