Have you agreed to the new PlayStation Network terms of service yet? If you have, then you've agreed not to take Sony to court or participate in a class action lawsuit against the company. You really should read things before you sign them, even digitally.
Today Sony Network Entertainment America transfers its online services to Sony Network Entertainment International, and PlayStation Network members are being asked to agree to an updated terms of service document to reflect that change, but they're agreeing to much more than a new global Sony Entertainment Network.
They're agreeing to not take any Sony Entity to court regarding any Sony online services or the use of any devices sold by a Sony entity to access those services. It's right there in section 15 of the document:
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 summary, in order to use the PlayStation Network, you must agree to settle any dispute with the company outside of court.
That's not all. There's also a class action waiver in section 15, which states that those agreeing to the terms of service are also agreeing to setting their disputes with Sony entities one-on-one. That means they cannot participate in a group action, unless that group action was set in motion before August 20, 2011.
It's a rather sneaky move on the part of Sony's legal department, though it isn't quite as nasty as it sounds. I mean, they did give us a way to opt-out of the agreement:
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.
Ah, written notice, the pleasant way to say, "Fuck you, buy a stamp." It's an inconvenient out, but it is an out. Otherwise you're not only bound for the duration of your agreement, but until the end of time, thanks to the continuation clause at the end of the section.
So your options are send a letter, deal with it, cancel your PlayStation Network account, or wait until such a time as a judge deems this illegal or unenforceable, which I can't imagine will take too long.
I've contact the PlayStation folks for comment, and will update the post should they respond.
Update: Sony's Patrick Seybold responded to my inquiry with the following:
"This language in our TOS is common and similar to that of many other service related Terms of Service Agreements. It is designed to benefit both the consumer and the company by ensuring that there is adequate time and procedures to resolve disputes."
Terms of Service and User Agreement (Version 12) [Sony Entertainment Network]