prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Sony Playing Hardball with new ToS

Posted by prof e on September 21, 2011

Do you enjoy using your PS3 to play online? Well, if you want to continue you’ll have to agree to waive your right to participate in any future class-action lawsuit against Sony if they should, say…for instance, compromise your account data by sloppy network security. The new Terms of Service (ToS) agreement that was released this week are designed to protect Sony…and only Sony. You, on the other hand, are at the mercy of a corporate power that has a pretty shoddy track record when it comes to protecting consumer data. You can read more about it here.

From Section 15 of the new terms and conditions:

If you have a Dispute with any Sony Entity or any of a Sony Entity’s officers, directors, employees and agents that cannot be resolved through negotiation within the time frame described in the “Notice of Dispute” clause below. Other than those matters listed in the Exclusions from Arbitration clause, 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.

There is an opt out…but it is pretty low-tech. If, within 30 days of signing the new ToS, you send a snail-mail letter to Sony’s legal department in California you can reject the dispute resolution clause. But seriously, how many PS3 users are going to read the new ToS, and how many of them are going to go to the trouble of writing and mailing a letter to Sony?

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38 Responses to “Sony Playing Hardball with new ToS”

  1. Dominick Ledezma said

    Ahhhh, the indelibly swift and dubious hidden hand of big corporations… The “fine print” was the beginning of the end of honesty, some semblance of the little guy getting a fair shake and huge corporate entities being kept in check. More and more however, it’s frequently become the weapon of choice for greed and passing the blame along.

    This is just one glaring example of how decency can be circumvented and comeuppances dodged…now just for a moment, if you can, imagine the bowl of atrocities and monumental slip ups that are being perpetrated by multinational corporations in say, Africa or Latin America that deal with things that matter on a much larger scale…cringing yet?

    This is just a glimpse, not even a glimpse, really…. half a glimpse, of just how they can shield themselves from having to do what’s right. It’s all nothing new really and to be even more candid, this is pretty much standard protocol for most corporations. And what do we, the public do? Mostly nothing, because after all, what would we be without our precious online connections for our PS3’s, and our satellite cable and our $100 dollar jeans, and effing cell phone that make pancakes for us??

  2. Austin Morelli said

    Wow, i think that is pretty shady of Sony to put that in the terms of playing online. I know first hand that I do not read all of the information that pertains to using the online system. I just hit accept terms to start playing. In May I knew that Sony was hacked and it took a month to get the Playstaion network up and running again. I understand that they are trying to protect themselves, but what did they do for the indivduals whose accounts were hacked? I am glad that I do not have a PS3 online account but an Xbox live account instead!This is great that your are letting people know how to get around Sony terms.

  3. Sadly the easiest way to commit a moral injustic and get away with it is to explain oneself in the fineprint. Any individual who actually looks deeply into the fine print of both products and services will find themselves safetly within the minority. The lawyer speak found within the endless minature lines of disclaimer text is more than the casual consumer wants to deal with espeially when they are in a hurry to use their product. What Sony is doing is no surprise, instead of improving their security they have opted to force the users to waive their privileges; and users will, and with all due haste especially when the consequences are a loss on PS3 online. What Sony is doing isn’t fair but then again it really isn’t that surprising ethics really arn’t a factor when they result in lost revenue.

  4. K. Williams said

    I don’t always read the terms, but I sure will read all of them now. I now several people who play online games and never read the terms, and their information would be at risk too. I also know these people would never think to snail mail a letter of dispute. Given how many people play PS3, I hate to think how many people are at risk and how exciting this opportunity would seem to hackers. Pretty scary.

  5. Taelor Huddleston said

    i am not very into video games, i played them a lot when i was little but hardly ever now. i know i never read the terms and agreements but if i did start playing video games again i would make sure to read them. it is shady of sony to sneak that in there but i guess if they have to protect themselves, that is all they care about.

  6. Alexander said

    I agree with what Mr. Ledezma wrote above. I would also add that perhaps Sony is actually behaving quite honestly in this case, as brutally unjust as it may seem.

    Imagine the internal cost of constantly maintaining and updating network security protocal. As a business decision (it’s been said ethics have no place in business thinking), deciding to merely protect the most basic company interests for internal security must be much cheeper than providing the false sense of security lazy minded consumers require for using interactive services. Are there still people naive enough to think that anything done online is “safe.” How silly. It seems the government too realizes just how threating digital information can be, and they know how dificult it is to protect it. Anyone heard of the digital warfare now taking place between all online nations? Let’s be real.

    Sony cut to the chase with its new ToS language. It basically reads, “use our service at your own risk” or “caveat emptor.”

    However, I enjoy a good fist-waiving Liberal screed every now and again, and I sympathize with the notion that the corporate world is ruled by avarice. But I’m not naive, and I know that there is no such thing as justice in the natural world. Justice, freedom, liberty; these are human contrivances of which innumerable illusory political and social philosphies are formed. Seems the truth that no one wants to admit is that the corporate world understands these unrealizable dreams, at least partially, and has become quite adept at thwarting public accountability using the very legal sytem that designed to ensure it. Perfection!

  7. Carl said

    I’ve read thoroughly through the Dispute section of the Terms of Agreement. It is stated that, “Arbitration means that the Dispute will be resolved by a neutral arbitrator instead of in a court by a judge or jury.” Yes, this saves SONY from being taken to court, but it does not mean the consumers are on their own about a problem. The agreement goes on to offer resolution for any disputes as long as the problem is handled outside of court through a neutral arbitrator. They still care about their consumers, because without them, the company wouldn’t exist. Companies have tanked thanks to some extremely ridiculous lawsuits that make it through the court and end up winning, Sony just wants to protect themselves from a crippling lawsuit, and have not completely removed themselves from working through disputes.

  8. CJ gerber said

    HUH! Isnt that something. Unlike xbox ps3 allows free online connection, but I guess it really isn’t free now is it… It may just me being an xbox fan, but this doesn’t surprise me, everything about the ps3 is shady and has ways of annoyance and incovenience. However, to take the side of Sony, ick, I do agree that as a society we need to knock off the laziness and read the fine print before signing something you don’t necessarily want to be signing.

  9. M. Williamson said

    I think that Sony is being selfish in this situation. I personally know a few people that were affected by the scandal last spring although they didnt get any info or money stolen they still were out of online play for like a month or so. As far as accepting the new policy most people wont read it for example my roommate had no idea about it. I feel Sony is just covering themselves and also leaving customers hanging because it allows for more foul ups and because of the policy they get a free pass. I dont like it at all, thats why its all about 360 haha.

  10. Sharlee Lopez said

    Personally I Love my PS3 but after the events that happened last spring and this new contract agreements that is meant to protect only them and leave the consumers screwed, I am beginning to make the change back to xbox. Sony is making itself seem as a shady and unreliable company, and losing the trust of consumers. I wasn’t affected when their network security was comprised, but I alot of my personal information is in the Playstation Network; including credit and debit cards used to buy video games, and netflix. I suppose the switch over to xbox starts real soon.

  11. jrmcclain said

    Sony is just practicing good business sense in their ToS….. while it may seem at first that the agreement only favors Sony, re-reading the fine print shows that Sony is committed to assisting customers with legitimate issues. As the business grows and changes so fast with the technology world, they are only protecting themselves from consumers whose only goal is to try and make money off a business for some inconsequential issue that may have been fabricated from the beginning. By being specific with arbitration rules, Sony is ruling out those who only play to deceive and leaves open the negotiation door for those consumers to really have an issue and want to come to a resolution. Arbitration means that both sides get involved and communicate with each other. I think the way that Sony had to advise each and every customer may be perceived as not so nice, but it is legalese by their lawyers. And the other side of the issue is that if this really offends you and you are in complete disagreement, then don’t play.

  12. Alexander said

    Those who supposedly read the fine print of this agreement don’t have the sense to recognize when a ToS contract has summarily neutered them. You do realize that if a consumer suffers any damages (no matter the size) while using Sony’s service they have ZERO ability to recover any loss. Alright, so the frivolous lawsuits might be thwarted, but so is every other type of suit, duh!

    Sure, Sony might mail out an apology letter. If there is a discernable security breech resulting from any sort of neglegience on Sony’s part, they may work to resolve it; meaning, they’ll fix the technical issue, but you (the consumer) are SOL! Period. End of story. Here’s a coupon.

    If you were smart enough to catch on to the arbitration clause, and if you truly understood it, it should be plain to see the giant middle finger.

    I personally don’t care. Making onself completely safe against digital threats is next to impossible, so I don’t bother with the dillusion. But wise up why don’t ya. And peruse Microsoft’s EULA legal speak for even more consumer fun.

  13. even though it may seem that Sony is just trying to practice good business sense and trying to cover their own rear ends with their new ToS but sony has a long time rival and it seems like the rival is winning with the online gaming world! Xbox has the internet gaming and live interaction down pat. i have always been an Xbox person and have never had a problem with their internet gaming services and havent had to approve any waivers to begin game play! i do however find it comical that sony is trying to have free internet connection unlike the xbox but it really isnt free is it! maybe i am just a hardcore xbox fan and to set it my ways, but i like being able to game online for 60 bucks a year and not have to agree to any disclaimers and worry about having a crappy connection!

  14. Caleb Ballesteros said

    I think you get what you pay for from sony’s online service, which is nothing. I don’t see the big deal you get to play all of your favorite games online for free and of course there are going to be a couple of features and security problem because there is no extra money going towards it. If you want a online service that has a little bit more features and better security then buy xbox live for $60 a year or play for free on the PS3 and deal with some of the issues that you are not paying for

  15. Alexandra Richardson said

    As any corporation it is the stakeholders in the company that come first and foremost than the customers. Every corporation knows that few people actually read the ToS because customers have a sense of trust in the company to rightly serve them for giving them business over Xbox…etc.

  16. Nick Kimbrel said

    I have a ps3 and i definitely didn’t read the terms of agreement. I don’t purchase any add-ons online so i don’t have any credit card information saved to they system, but it is surprising to me that a major corporation like Sony would have a policy that much against the customers. Although if the playstation network were to get hacked again, it would be hard for the company to reimburse all of the customers again.

  17. Dakota Mason said

    Sony has every right to make this a policy of theirs, however it is a bit odd that they would just throw this in there. They know that most people dont read the ToS but they have to cover themselves any way they can. I completely understand this move. I have an online account with sony but dont have any credit information in there because i dont want to get my information hacked into. This is why i chose Playstation over XBOX.

  18. Mario Cortez said

    I think that Sony should just have better protection for users personal information, if they beef up their security then there is no need for them to create this ridiculous ToS where you wave the rights to punish them for losing your information. Sure Sony has a method to opt out of this term but I believe that 80% of Playstation online users are not going to know about it, let alone even send a letter to the headquarters in California. I think that they should ask for help from Microsoft the developers of the Xbox 360 because Xbox live hasn’t gotten hacked to the extent of how the Playstation network did. But I could care less about this because I am a Xbox live guy all the way.

  19. Ralph said

    How in the world does a huge company like Sony get hacked into like this? To me, this is merely a joke. They should have expected something like this in today’s world filled with people who can access your information with the right knowledge. Not many consumers would read the ToS for the feeling they might be “safe” with what the company has to offer them. I most definitly wouldn’t, and im sure i speak for thousands more. You live and you learn, now sony must do everything in its power to make sure it never has a secutiy flop such as this. Or else, Xbox 360 will be welcoming alot more gamers.

  20. Justin Shalinsky said

    I was on the Playstation Network for a little while during the time when the network got hacked for the first time. It’s hard to believe that a big corporation couldn’t stop someone from hacking the whole Playstation Network into which millions of people couldn’t even play online for months. I think it is pretty low for them to say that they will not protect people if someone does manage to hack the PSN again, and it sounds like they aren’t too confident in their new security system for the network. I personally switched back to Xbox so it really doesn’t affect me but I do believe that if people who play Playstation start reading about this they might be switching to Xbox as well.

  21. Lee Meisner said

    I believe that this is a very “shoddy” act from Sony. The reason I believe that is because of the basic concept we have here. I would say for the most part, the individuals participating in the PlayStation Network are not the “breadwinners” of the household. I feel for the most part that the kids of the family are the ones playing and interacting on the network, not the parents who’s information is the ones being compromised. The situation in my eyes is similar to making infants sign a waiver that if they are injured from their “play toy” then they will forfeit their right to take action against the company. The situation with PlayStation is no different, the “infants” are being tricked into agreeing with something they do not understand and nor it is their information that is compromised. I do feel like partial responsibility should be placed on overseers of the PlayStation participant, but Sony should still act ethically and not in a deceitful manner for their past mistakes.

  22. Justin Haddan said

    These new terms of service are not surprising to me. Sony is just trying to cover their butts after they got hacked onto earlier in the year. The consumer is not left out to dry in the new terms. They can not be took to court but it states that disputes can be solved through an arbitrator. This is still a low blow to the consumers because a lot of people don’t read the terms of service and just check the box and start playing. So most consumers have no idea that Sony is trying to screw them over if something was to happen again.

  23. Trevor Soole said

    Momma always said “read the fine print!” Honestly I agree with most of these comments. I am not surprised in the least to see Sony putting this clause in their terms of service. Frankly, I’m surprised someone hasn’t done it before. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made an online purchase or download that puts up a long terms of service and I just check the box like the good little monkey that I am and don’t think anymore of it. If Sony expected people to actually read their terms of service they wouldn’t have put something this influential in it. Yes this is a perennial “low blow” from Sony to the consumers, but can you blame them? They’re just doing what they believe is right for the company which in all instances, is just good business.

  24. ashton5 said

    Before I start, I will admit that I am an XBOX user through and through. Having said that, I will try and tackle this topic without bias.

    Ahh Sony. As i’m sure many have heard, and many experienced, the Sony Playstation Live Network crashed just months ago. Many accounts had been hacked and money stolen. However, forcing people to sign this waiver is not the answer to their problems. I believe it is unfair to Playstation gamers and i’m extremely satisfied with my decision to stick with Microsoft.

    The only thing I can say is that the Live for Sony is a free feature. So I suppose they have the right to provide whatever they want.

  25. Andrew DeBerry said

    Its mind blowing how certian businesses can have the nerve to pin a legal document against their own customer, especially when they dont know about it. I understand that we live in a sue happy world, but to what degree should it be legal for a company to protect itself? Keeping custome rconfidentiality should be a mutual agreement between the company and the customer. The company should not be held accountable if the customer misuses their connection and gives out their own personal data. On the other hand it should not be the customers liability that the corporation leaked their private information. What annoys me the most is the fact that a company would hide such an important message under the terms of service, as to which includes vast amount of writing that they know people wont read. I understand that people have a chance to write a letter to sony declarying that they dont agree, however what about all those people that didnt recognize that they signed such an agreement? This is a prime example of a large corporation destroying our values of our country.

  26. Trent said

    First off, I am a proud owner of an Xbox 360! I agree with everyone calling Sony “shaddy” but they have a right too. Not to long ago the Playstation Network was hacked by group of people which lead to PSN shutting down their operations for awhile. In result people sued them for not being able to play what they paid for. But this is kind of odd, why would PSN make this guideline after they have already been hacked? Do they believe that their network may get hacked again?

  27. Aron Harris said

    I own a ps3 and play online all the time. I personally do not read the terms and agreements portion of using the ps3. It does however seem unfair that Sony is just trying to protect themselves. Honestly I wouldn’t use my credit card online or use any personal information online anyways.

  28. Deontrae Cooper said

    anyone that says they read the fine print in the agreement of sony’s PS3 is a complete lire the first thing i do when i have to update or anything like that is scroll all the way down the page skipping everything important that one might want me to read…most people dont care about the fine print they juss wanna play the game of do wat ever it is he or she wants to do

  29. Jade Lopez said

    honestly, nobody is going to take the time to read through all of that, but at the same time it is the company’s money so it is the company’s choice. They do have to take into consideration that if they expect people to read through their agreement, they should make short and simple so the viewer can move on.

  30. Quayshaun Coleman said

    I feel like sony was right on the money with sneaking that in. I personally am not a gamer so therefore I’m not as affected. But, as a large coorporation it is necessary to take certian steps to maintain their safety. It is unfair to us as consumers but, sony understands that the average gamer doesn’t read the use and terms because they just want to get to the action. It was an incredibly smart decision especially if they had doubts in their product. But this will definitly affect their credibility in the future.

  31. Kenneth Martinez said

    This is just super sketchy to me. I’m glad I have Xbox Live. I don’t see how such a big and well known company like Sony can get away with this. I think instead of putting something like this out there they should try to fix the problem instead of putting this out there. Even though Playstation Network is free at least paying for Xbox Live you don’t have these kind of problems. I don’t think companies should be able to put these before using their products. Nobody actually reads them so they shouldn’t mean anything.

  32. To be honest I think Sony is trying to protect itself because of the huge security breach this past spring. Sony was very unprofessional about providing updates on the situation when PSN went down and seemed to be tying up loose ends everywhere….it was a mess. The PSN obviously was not built very good orginially since firmware updates could be so easily manipulated to gain administration/developor tools onto the system itself. Sony is simply preparing itself for the worst.

  33. Joseph D. Devendorf said

    Ah geez! I’ve been saving up money to buy a PS3, only to find that Sony has become sketch? I’m not so sure I need to play games. I heard that there’s this place called “outside” and it has this thing called “fresh air.” Seems like a pretty happenin place.

    It seems like Sony is ignoring the issue and has a scapegoat so they don’t have to take blame. Fix the problem before you lose supporters, customers, stock holders etc. Just a possible outcome Sony.

  34. Ryne Neal said

    Wow! Sony really doesn’t want to responsibility for their acts of being hacked into, or their clients getting hacked into. It’s really shady putting this in the terms of service know that many gamers, and people in general don’t really read these ToS things. I mean I barely skim through those things. They are going to have a lot of lawsuits that are going to be rejected because of this and no one will recall ever reading that part, just because they didn’t read at all. This is why we read terms of service, so that if you don’t agree you can either refuse service or dispute it, either way good luck with that.

  35. If you think about it, Sony is trying to make a large group of one of the laziest people in the world either sign the new agreement or fight. I can say that I know a lot of people who would be to lazy to even want to see the title of the new agreement. They would be more like, “what’s the easiest way to get myself to play more video games and in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s mostly a genius idea because they can create this agreement with the least percentage of people arguing against it.

  36. Nik Spinuzzi said

    I dont think I speak for just for myself in saying that I never have, and probably ready a whole ToS word for word and taken the time to really understand one. I bet most people who agreed to this still dont know what they committed to in the latest ToS for Sony, and dont even realize that they are at risk if something goes wrong with the Sony network. This was an incredibly sly move by Sony to sucker customers into agreeing to something they dont even realize their being askedl. For the record, I’ve always said xbox live is better.

  37. Tyler Stone said

    I think the fact that they hide this statement in a new Tos is pretty sketchy and it makes me feel better that I have a xbox. I really don’t think this is going to get much attention however, primarily because maybe 1 out of 1,000 may read the terms but not everyone will read that carefully to catch that Sony is only protecting themselves, and even if they do catch it there might be 2 or 3 that would mail a letter. Ultimatley this isnt going to change the opinions about gamers that have been true to the brand since the original playstation, and its effects are going to be quite minimal.

  38. Brandyn Moore said

    This passage talks about the PS3 and the new rules that are coming with the gaming system. There are new agreements that people have to except if they want to enjoy the fun. The new rules only count for the use of the internet, not the actual gaming system. From what I hear about this gadget people have just as much fun playing on the internet that they do popping a regular disc into the system. In a nutshell if you want to use the internet you’re going to have to give up your right against any future lawsuits that may be used against you so you can still play but not at any cost. I do not own a PS3 but I definitely get what the issue is here first hand and if I were someone that belonged to this category I wouldn’t be too happy about the situation either. The data of the users are also at risk when using the device which is something that should be worried about. I don’t agree with any of this because I feel as if this was going to be the new TOS (Terms of Service) this is something that should have come when the device was first released to people. The best way to go about fixing the problem, in my eyes, is to make a long list of complaints to sony and if that doesn’t work, look into X-Box Live!

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