AT&T decision influenced new PlayStation Network TOS

By Steve Watts, Sep 22, 2011 5:30pm PDT

The updated PlayStation Network Terms of Service agreement slipped in some legal language that, theoretically, prevents class-action suits. This has created a bit of a stir, and questions of legality, but Sony says that it based the decision on precedent from a recent AT&T ruling.

"The Supreme Court recently ruled in the AT&T case that language like this is enforceable," a spokesperson told CNN. "The updated language in the TOS is designed to benefit both the consumer and the company by ensuring that there is adequate time and procedures to resolve disputes."

The case being referred to was decided in April, after a long five-year legal battle. The suit involved customers being charged state taxes for a cell phone that was advertised as free. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn a Ninth Circuit court decision that class waivers are unenforceable. Analysts at the time claimed it would have far-reaching consequences for class-action suits, and we're seeing that now.

Instead, agreeing to the Terms of Service means you need to settle disputes individually, through arbitration. An arbitration case splits the legal cost of the arbiter between the two parties, and doesn't include a jury. The document does include the ability to opt out of that clause, by sending a legally binding letter within 30 days of agreeing to the TOS.

The AT&T precedent means that, for the time being at least, the Terms of Service are legal and likely to hold up in court. If you want to reserve your right to be part of a class-action suit, be sure to send that letter.

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