Monday, September 19, 2011

Should You Consider the New PSN User Agreement Before Just Clicking Yes?

When you come across a user agreement, do you read the entire agreement or scroll down the agreement, click “I agree” and move right on to your music, video game or website without a second thought? I think that’s what most people tend to do. Who has the time to read through every single user agreement that you encounter? Well, if you are a Sony user and you come across the updated agreement that they are releasing, you may want to take a second to read over it.

The Sony PlayStation Network updated its terms of service on September 15. The update was intended to ban class-action lawsuits against Sony.

"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 action unless you and [Sony] agree to do so in writing," states the updated terms.

Users have the ability to opt out of these new terms of service if they wish to, but they must do so in writing within 30 days of the day that they accepted the agreement. Users that wish to opt out of the agreement must send in their name, address, PSN account number, and a statement that clearly lets Sony know that they do not wish to resolve any issues with Sony via arbitration. All of this information must be sent to 6080 Center Dr., 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

Some Sony users will not even realize that they are clicking away their right to a class-action suit. Maybe some users don’t care, but it is definitely something that PSN users should be aware of.

According to TechDirt, these agreements where users agree to not sue a company are pretty darn common, but the blog says that “it is debatable how enforceable some of these clauses are.” The blog goes on to say that “the terms also bar participating in class action lawsuits, which seems much more questionable.”

"Where Sony gets ridiculous is in claiming that this change 'is designed to benefit both the consumer and the company by ensuring that there is adequate time and procedures to resolve disputes.' That makes me think of a two syllable word whose first four letters are bull," TechDirt wrote. "Come on. At this point, everyone knows that binding arbitration between a company and a consumer wildly favors companies."

Gamasutra, however, argued that the update "really seems to be more a case of the collective gaming public getting riled up over something that has little, if any, consequence for them."

These new terms are a result of several class-action suits that Sony is currently dealing with concerning the breach of the PlayStation Network earlier this year. In April there was a suit filed that claimed Sony failed to protect, encrypt and secure its customer information. The suit is looking for compensation for the data loss and the time that the PlayStation Network was down.

Lesson to be learned: before you just click okay on the next user agreement that you come across, it might be a good idea to at least scan the document and see what it is that you are agreeing to.

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