Sony has had its fair share of legal trouble over the last few months. It’s all thanks to the monumental cluster-**** that happened when the PSN was hacked. Remember? A couple of million user accounts and all the details attached to them were stolen by online rapscallions!
The result is that Sony is, obviously, kind of over having to go to court. There are class-action lawsuits and various additional means of litigation still going on. What Sony has done is, as of 15 September 2011, they’ve transferred PSN and Sony Network Entertainment America accounts over to another Sony group called Sony Network Entertainment International. This means that all PSN accounts need to accept a new End User License Agreement.
Inside the new EULA is a clause that basically says you can’t sue Sony as either an individual or as part of a Class Action group. Ever.
The sneaky little clause added to the EULA reads as follows:
Other than those matters listed in the Exclusions from Arbitration clause (small claims), you and the Sony Entity that you have a Dispute with agree to seek resolution of the Dispute only through arbitration of that Dispute in accordance with the terms of this Section 15, and not litigate any Dispute in court. Arbitration means that the Dispute will be resolved by a neutral arbitrator instead of in a court by a judge or jury.
In other words: you can enter into arbitration with Sony, but arbitration is not legally binding in resolutions and requires a neutral third party to oversee proceedings. Because Sony is such a caring corporate behemoth however, they have given you the option to disagree with this particular clause, but you have to notify them in writing within 30 days of you accepting the EULA.
RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF BINDING ARBITRATION AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER WITHIN 30 DAYS. 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.
While I’m no legal guru, I’m not entirely sure that this sort of thing is exactly legal. If it isn’t, then it’ll be a matter of time until some court tells Sony to shove it. I’m also not entirely sure whether this also applies to the South African PSN or just the USA, as I’ve yet to switch on my PS3 to see. That being said, I’m half expecting a notification of a new EULA the next time I log into the PSN.