Sony yesterday pushed an updated user agreement for its PlayStation Network service, and eagle-eyed readers who actually bothered to read through it found some interesting revisions made by the electronics and console giant.
Perhaps more than a little sick of the ligitation it faces as a result of removing Linux support from the PlayStation 3, not to mention losing the personal details tied to millions of PSN user accounts, Sony will now require its users to get an agreement with one of its divisions in writing before they can enter a class action lawsuit against it. Otherwise, Sony will be able to force users into arbitration instead.
A precedent exists through a Supreme Court ruling made earlier this year that allowed companies like AT&T to refrain from class action lawsuits by forcing customers into individual arbitration instead. This possibly impacts the ability of consumers to challenge companies in court.
The latest PSN user agreement, which users must agree to sign if they want to continue using the service, contains the following new lines:
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.
Users can choose to opt out of this particular clause of the agreement (and retain their right to enter a class action instead of being limited to individual arbitration) by sending a request to Sony, again in writing, with the relevant PSN user details:
IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE BOUND BY THE BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER IN THIS SECTION 15, YOU MUST NOTIFY SNEI IN WRITING WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THAT YOU ACCEPT THIS AGREEMENT. YOUR WRITTEN NOTIFICATION MUST BE MAILED TO 6080 CENTER DRIVE, 10TH FLOOR, LOS ANGELES, CA 90045, ATTN: LEGAL DEPARTMENT/ARBITRATION AND MUST INCLUDE: (1) YOUR NAME, (2) YOUR ADDRESS, (3) YOUR PSN ACCOUNT NUMBER, IF YOU HAVE ONE, AND (4) A CLEAR STATEMENT THAT YOU DO NOT WISH TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITH ANY SONY ENTITY THROUGH ARBITRATION.
The key is to do within 30 days of accepting the new PSN user agreement.