Electronic Arts has modified the Origin terms of service to forbid its users from filing class action lawsuits against the company.
A couple of weeks ago, Sony updated the PlayStation Network terms of service with a clause that forces users to waive their right to file class action lawsuits against the company. Instead, disputes must be resolved individually through arbitration, a process when tends to favor corporations over individuals. It sounds a bit dodgy but the change came about thanks to recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled in a separate case that such conditions are enforceable.
Recognizing a good idea when it sees one, Electronic Arts has now made similar changes to the Origin terms of service. Under “Section 20: Dispute Resolution by Binding Arbitration,” the ToS now compels users to “expressly waive the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action.” Instead, all disputes that cannot be straightened out through “informal negotiations” will be “finally and exclusively resolved by binding arbitration.”
In case that’s not clear enough in itself, the document also states, in bold face and all caps, “You understand that by this provision, you and EA are foregoing the right to sue in court and have a trial by jury.” Furthermore, “You and EA agree that each may bring claims against the other only in your or its individual capacity, and not as a plaintiff or class member in any purported class or representative proceeding.” And not only that, but “unless both you and EA agree otherwise, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one person’s claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding.”
Got that, slugger? There are some limitations; you’re exempt from these restrictions if you happen to live in Quebec, Russia, Switzerland or the Member States of the European Union, which apparently take a dim view on allowing people to forfeit their legal rights with a blind click-through, and claims relating to EA’s IP rights or allegations of “theft, piracy or unauthorized use” – in other words, stuff EA is more likely to sue you over than the other way around – can still be pursued through normal means.
From a practical perspective, this won’t mean a thing for just about everyone who uses Origin. There’s a reason people just click past user agreements without even giving them a second glance, after all. But as a matter of principle if nothing else, the idea of surrendering your right to legal redress is troublesome – and I bet we’re probably going to see a lot more of it in the future.