Giantbomb is reporting that a legal loophole gives Playstation Network subscribers the ability to opt-out of a specific aspect of their Terms of Service Agreement. The aspect in question is both new and controversial.
Essentially, the new ToS requires PSN users to agree not to sue them as part of a class action lawsuit and any legal dispute would have to be solved through arbitration. Arbitration has traditionally meant outside of court, potentially through an arbitrator who acts as a neutral party between Sony and the plaintiff. PSN subscribers are required to accept the ToS to continue their subscription.
The legal excerpt follows, but the entire ToS can be found 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.”
The loophole in question comes from another section of the ToS allowing subscribers to opt-out, but continue their subscription by sending a letter to Sony stating that they do not wish to waive their right to class action lawsuits. The ToS states that, “If you do not wish to be bound by the binding arbitration and class action waiver in this Section 15 you must notify SNEI (Sony) in writing within 30 days of the date that you accept this agreement.”
The important detail to notice is that this must be done within 30 days of accepting the ToS. The address to send the letter to is:
6080 Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Attn: Legal Department/Arbitration
Attn: Sony Legal Department: Dispute Resolution
Giantbomb was even kind enough to include a sample letter that could be altered for any subscriber wishing to opt-out. While it is still questionable whether the new ToS will hold up in court, the potential of frightening people out of a lawsuit could be the actual goal of the agreement. After the PSN security breach in April that compromised the personal information of over 75 million PSN accounts, many subscribers believed that Sony was too slow in informing them of the hack. Sony became aware of the breach six days before they released a press release and within days of the announcement, Sony became the defendant in at least one lawsuit.