I got an e-mail from Sony today. They’re changing how PlayStation Network (PSN) is managed, and with it they’re changing the Terms of Service. The e-mail included a link to a PDF of the new TOS for my perusal. They were nice enough to make all the changes obvious. All changes are in red lettering — old terms crossed out, new terms right next to them. The bulk of the changes just refer to the change in management.
However, there are two big changes they’ve made.
- By agreeing to the TOS, users waiver their rights to class-action lawsuits related to PSN.
- PSN content is no longer being purchased by the user. Instead, we are licensing the use of the software.
Since they can’t legally tell us what we can and can’t do with our own property (i.e. hacking the operating system), they’re removing out right to actually own any of it. Since players have become reliant on the connectivity of PSN, they have quite the crowbar to leverage against us. Agree to our terms, they say, or be unable to fully use the content you’ve already paid for. And the new TOS stipulates any violation of terms requires users to delete/destroy any copies of the content in their possession.
One question that arises here is this: what about the stuff we’ve already paid for, which we technically own under the old terms of service? I don’t know about any of you, but I paid for the content with the understanding that it was mine forever and ever to have and to hold until catastrophe do us part. By agreeing to the new terms of service, are we giving back the rights we paid for on software purchased under the old agreement?
Honestly, most users won’t be directly affected by the changes. If they’re using the system the way Sony wants them to, then these legal conundrums won’t be an issue for them.
However, this says a lot about trends in copyright law and digital rights management. Society is drifting towards cloudsourcing and downloading everything digitally. Do we really want to allow the big companies to pigeonhole us like this?
A copy of the TOS I received can be downloaded here (PDF).