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Valve Removes Right For Class Action Claims From EULA

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the let's-all-sue-them-for-this dept.

Games 270

trawg writes "Valve has joined the list of companies that have altered their terms and conditions to prevent users from filing a class action suit. Their official statement says that such claims 'impose unnecessary expense and delay' and are 'designed to benefit the class action lawyers.' In its stead, they've added a new arbitration process, in which Valve will reimburse costs (under certain circumstances) when dispute resolution can't be solved through their normal support process."

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I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837781)

It just seems wrong that a product EULA can make you forfeit your rights like this.

But at the same time they are absolutely correct, class action seldom really benefits anyone but the law firms.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837809)

For Valve's defense, their reasoning for this is more than valid. Valve has always been a good company and continues to be so.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837933)

Such a good company like that should put stuff in their EULA so that they totally own you. I mean really make you their bitch. Yup, they're a good company.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838859)

As long as law protects you, they can't take your rights away.
Before you say they can - think about it. You have human right to remain alive. You can't deny it even for yourself. No matter if you sign paper that you will willingfully die, it is still murder to kill you.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (5, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837955)

BS. Valve is just proving they're as evil as anyone else. Fast downloads of games does not grant them a holy indulgence.

As far as arbitration goes, arbitration _always_ means that the rich side of a dispute wins. In normal suits the the rich side usually wins but there remains a chance to have actual justice. What matters in arbitration are the clauses that say what happens if either side disagrees with a ruling, and they usually say something like redo the arbitration with expenses split evenly, or the person disagreeing with the output pays for the new arbitration, etc.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (5, Insightful)

morcego (260031) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838055)

For Valve's defense, their reasoning for this is more than valid. Valve has always been a good company and continues to be so.

The fact they are forcing arbitration pretty much destroys your argument.

Arbitration, as a choice, is a wonderful thing. Making it mandatory is spitting in the face of customers and their rights.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838171)

According to the post in my RSS reader, they are also allowing small claims court, which is probably the appropriate venue for most disputes about video games. My account is pretty big (between one and two hundred games) but i still wouldn't expect it to be worth more than a couple of thousands dollars. Not with going to a jury trial over. I haven't read the full text of the agreement, though.

I'd mostly be concerned if Valve fucks something something so badly that the damage is much greater than the value of the account itself. In a catastrophic situation like that, a class action might be called for.

Is there a reason for this? (2, Interesting)

freeze128 (544774) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838945)

Do they even need to force arbitration? When has one of Valve's products killed someone?
Or left them crippled?
Or changed their lives so seriously that they actually NEEDED to sue Valve for damages?

The EULA already pretty much says that this software is sold as-is and is not fit for a particular purpose, and indemnifies them against loss of data on your hard drive, and any responsibility is yours.

If the product doesn't do what you would expect, they can always just give you a refund, and kick your butt out the door.

It would seem to me that this clause would prevent lawsuits like "Your game gave me carpal tunnel" or "Because of Half-life, my family left me", which are all bullshit lawsuits anyway, and those are EXACTLY the things that Valve wants to avoid.

Sadly true (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837839)

I've received 3 class action notices in the mail over the past month. I have no interest in joining them but the net kickback if I did was about nothing.

Re:Sadly true (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838075)

The kickback is only half the equation. The total amount should, and I'm only speaking theoretically here, discourage future BS. The lawyers may get it all, but more importantly, the do-badders lose it.

If AT&T lost a class action suit over unlimited throttling I'd do a little dance even if I didn't get a dime.

Re:Sadly true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838473)

The kickback is only half the equation. The total amount should, and I'm only speaking theoretically here, discourage future BS. The lawyers may get it all, but more importantly, the do-badders lose it.

If AT&T lost a class action suit over unlimited throttling I'd do a little dance even if I didn't get a dime.

But unfortunately, often the do-gooders also lose it. People are discussing a class-action against Blizzard for Diablo 3. Why? Because the game may have an (unconfirmed) bug that prevents them from selling virtual merchandise that they acquired in game for real dollars.

Personally, I find D3 by far the worst of the series, but even so, suing over the inability to play the game for profit? That is exactly the sort of BS lawsuit that should be handled in arbitration...

Re:Sadly true (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838541)

I find D3 by far the worst of the series, but even so, suing over the inability to play the game for profit? That is exactly the sort of BS lawsuit that should be handled in arbitration.

That is bullshit. It should always be handled by the fucking courts, never fucking arbitration. Personally the people should revoke the corporate charter of any company that has such a clause in any fucking EULA, But since you are a capitalist shill you would believe the lies such as second hand tobacco smoke is healthy, minorities should remain separate from crackers. businesses are never greedy and always good, AGW is false, and any other Rush Limbaugh style rhetoric. So behalf of the progressives in society I would like to say "GO FUCK OFF EAT SHIT AND DIE FUCKING PIECE OF CAPITALIST SWINE SHIT!!!!!!"

Re:Sadly true (1)

fredprado (2569351) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839119)

Blizzard opened itself for this kind of trouble when they decided to condone with real money trading.

Re:Sadly true (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838585)

I like how the anti-judiciary meme has spread to the point that lawsuits are always bad. If it's an individual suit, then it's "Jackpot Justice" and people are just looking to "get rich quick" and so it should be done away with. If it's a class action suit, then "the lawyers will take all the money" and "the people who filed won't get anything" and so it should be done away with.
  I also see a number of related memes all over slashdot today, "legislating from the bench" and such. This set of beliefs is incredibly successful at propagating, I suppose. Probably because so many Americans get their ideas about how courts work secondhand.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837861)

Unfortunately, it's not just an end-run around the courts. The courts said "Go ahead, run around us." Specifically, The Supreme Court decided companies may enforce binding arbitration in service agreement contract: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/banking/2011/05/us-supreme-court-okays-binding-arbitration-clauses-prohibiting-consumers-from-joining-class-actions.html

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1, Funny)

tapspace (2368622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838251)

I'd have to agree with the courts on this one. It's a legislative problem for the moment. The last thing we need is more legislation from the bench.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838341)

Wow, couple that with the Citizens United ruling and we have a SCOTUS that is in a race to the bottom.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Insightful)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838933)

Working link [typepad.com] . It's worth reading the rendered opinion of the court here. AT&T was providing these arbitration rules:

In the event the parties proceed to arbitration, the agreement specifies that AT&T must pay all costs for nonfrivolous claims; that arbitration must take place in the county in which the customer is billed; that, for claims of $10,000 or less, the customer may choose whether the arbitration proceeds in person, by telephone, or based only on submissions; that either party may bring a claim in small claims court in lieu of arbitration; and that the arbitrator may award any form of individual relief, including injunctions and presumably punitive damages. The agreement, more over, denies AT&T any ability to seek reimbursement of its attorney’s fees, and, in the event that a customer receives an arbitration award greater than AT&T’s last written settlement offer, requires AT&T to pay a $7,500 minimum recovery and twice the amount of the claimant’s attorney’s fees.

To anyone who thinks there exists a class action lawsuit that is going to provide more compelling terms for AT&T to fix a customer issue than this, I'd say nonsense. I have a small pile of "won" class action suits, where I got $20 to $50 for abusive behavior that cost me far more than that, years after it was irrelevant. In each and every case, I would have preferred swift abritration over the option to sue if the option were available. That's the point the SCOTUS was trying to make here--that had a class action suit proceeded, people would have been far less likely to get satisfaction.

The idea of a class-action lawsuit is ridiculous, unsatisfying nonsense perpetuated by the lawyers who profit from them. If companies want to push for abritration instead, the right response isn't to say "no, we want the right to be screwed over by our lawyers". What saavy people should be thinking about is doing the same thing--punishing companies on a large scale for their mistakes--via large-scale, coordinated abitration. I'm far more confident that crowdsourcing abitration will provide a useful benefit to consumers than any of the broken legal processes for suing companies we have now.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838963)

Wow, you have some terrible laws.

However, that decision does seem to refer specifically to *contracts*. As in, "Mr. and Mrs. Conception entered into a cellular telephone contract". An EULA is not a contract.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837871)

I also agree with these statements. The thing that makes me shake my head is these arbitrators are the same thing banks use to royally screw customers here in the USA. They are never impartial and have only 1 goal, to save the company that hired them as much money as possible.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (5, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838275)

I also agree with these statements. The thing that makes me shake my head is these arbitrators are the same thing banks use to royally screw customers here in the USA. They are never impartial and have only 1 goal, to save the company that hired them as much money as possible.

I just ditched my bank for a credit union because they sent me a note saying I had to agree to arbitration.

Guess they found out I don't "have to agree" with *anything*.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837887)

I, and many actual lawyers, don't think that they can. These clauses *probably* will not stand up in court, at least against a legitimate grievance. It may work, either directly or indirectly, to stop money-grab class actions, but it may not work if there's a real case.

I am told (IANAL, remember?) that it is already unenforceable in the EU, and that several states in the US are considering making it unenforceable as well.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837937)

EU - certainly.

But I'm pretty sure that in the US there was a SCOTUS decision specifically allowing this. It's possible that that only applies to 'real' contracts though, and EULA's may or may not be real contracts (IMHO, IANAL) due to the lack of negotiation and the relative positions of the two parties.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838789)

Well, in France for example, class actions just don't exist, but we do have special judges for small disputes that seem to work pretty well, and don't even require you to get a lawyer.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837893)

It just seems wrong that a product EULA can make you forfeit your rights like this.

Can it? Such terms may not have any legal force. There are certain rights you cannot sign away (especially with something as dodgy as an EULA, rather than a real contract).

They're free to write whatever they want in hope of scaring people away from doing certain things, of course, but that does not make what they write true...

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837951)

I'm not sure about EULA's but it has been specifically allowed by the supreme court in contracts. Whether the former count as much as the latter is a matter of contention.

It was only the right to band together in a class-action, it doesn't affect your rights to sue as an individual, and some companies (Sony) give you the option to opt-out of this clause, if you write to them directly to do so.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839313)

In the EU, they definitely can't. They may even end up with being sued by the EU for it. And looking how they dealt with MS, I say good luck with that.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (2)

Serpents (1831432) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839423)

No need to sue them. Provisions contradicting the EU law are simply considered to be null and void. Some contracts/EULAs just add "unless not permitted by your local/applicable law" or something to that effect just to let people know that they should check

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (2)

Asmor (775910) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837905)

Even if the lawyers are the only ones that walk away rich, the defendant is still going to feel the sting.

Lawsuits aren't about winning money (though that's often a motivating factor for the plaintiff); the threat of a potential lawsuit may be the only thing keeping a company in check. And when that company deals in transactions with tiny individual costs, where no rational person would file an individual lawsuit over it, a class action lawsuit is the only way to give the threat teeth.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

tapspace (2368622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838223)

Why don't we just start advocating small claims cases en masse? This shifts the tables in favor of the consumer immensely. There are no lawyers to get rich and they are extremely expensive to fight (rather than just settle). You can't get much more punative than that, and the claimant likely gets something out of the deal.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838259)

Well, that works great for the one, two, or twenty dudes who actually do it, but a large corporation (Sony, MS, etc) will just laugh as they write off a check and continue doing whatever it was they were doing. Small claims court isn't a deterrent.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838409)

Neither in the end are most class actions. Even the biggest class actions against places like tobacco corporations barely have any effect.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838633)

So, you pay some money to $large_company, $large_company gets $some_thing wrong in a big way, you take them to the small claims court, and you get your money back.

Where's the downside?

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (4, Informative)

Asmor (775910) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838791)

$large_company "accidentally" overcharges its customers $0.50 per month. Joe Blow sits there and calculates that, hey, his widget bill this month was $65.63, and it should have been $65.13. Joe Blow then goes and checks last months bills, same deal; he goes online and the oldest bills he can see online are 2 years old, and he's been charged this $0.50 every month for at least the last 2 years. Joe Blow's lost at least $12 dollars to this.

Joe Blow signed away his arbitration rights, so he takes $large_company to small claims court. $large_company says, "Oh, dear me, terribly sorry. Here's $50." and they flip a switch on Joe's account so that he alone won't get charged the $0.50 in the future.

Of course, amongst all its 10 million customers, $large_company has stolen $120 million in the last two years alone because of this $0.50 cent "accident," and because there was no big class action suit and no publicity they just continue on stealing from their customers because even if someone notices, what are the chances they'll care enough to actually go through the hassle of small claims court?

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838743)

Why don't we just start advocating small claims cases en masse? This shifts the tables in favor of the consumer immensely. There are no lawyers to get rich and they are extremely expensive to fight (rather than just settle). You can't get much more punative than that, and the claimant likely gets something out of the deal.

Class actions deal with cases that fall in the grey area where the harm done is too low to justify the expense of going to small claims.

For example, let's say your wireless provider decided to raise your rates you pay on your contract by $2 a month. And let's say your contract states "small increases are allowed by this contract". Your option would be to pay up the extra $24/year for the remainder of your contract, pay the $200 to cancel the contract, or fight it out in court to get the contract cancelled.

Now, fighting it out costs something like a $40 filing fee, plus having to take a day off work and whatever else. All to save maybe $72 over a 3 year contract. Or $32 after paying the non-refundable filing fee.

You'll find most consumers shrug it off. The ones that fight it out? Well, the company would just not show up, and you win and they'll write you a cheque for that amount. So your win probably costed you more time and money and the company didn't do a single thing different. They ignored the court, don't bother showing up, and probably just prepared the cancellation paperwork for you just like everyone else who cancelled normally.

Let's say Valve decides to impose a $10 annual maintenance fee every year you don't buy something from the store, or you lose your account. They'll say that $10 fee will give you a $10 discount off a game you purchase that year, so if you buy something, you get it back. Is that fair? Would you go through the effort of fighting it out individually for the principle of it, knowing Valve will probably hand you the money the moment you win, probably on pre-prepared cheques? Not many people would go through the effort to save $10.

And yet, $10 times the number of steam accounts? Probably a few million dollars a year.

Companies have long figured it out - if you need $10M, it's easier, cheaper, and less chance of getting caught to steal $10 from 1 million customers than steam $10M from 1 entity. And yes, that case I mentioned earlier did happen in a very unconsumer-friendly contract that the company wanted $3/month extra or $200 to break the contract.

And some charities unfortunately have done the same too - they've bumped the "default contribution" up a couple of bucks hoping people don't notice (it was in small print) and give, resulting in millions more for the charity.

But hey, if that's fair for you, good on you.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838161)

class action seldom really benefits anyone but the law firms

Perhaps, but arbitration seldom really benefits anyone but the defendants.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

Coppit (2441) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838201)

Don't forget it *punishes* the company, even if people don't get a dime. In fact for some things like pollution I'd rather they just take the award money and burn it, thereby increasing the value of everyone's money equally.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (3, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838229)

> But at the same time they are absolutely correct, class action seldom really benefits anyone but the law firms.

Directly? Yes. Indirectly? Well... Perhaps not.

Class action suits are much more about seeking _punishment_ than compensation. That's why companies hate them and want to preclude them with clauses like these. Sure every member of the class might only get, say 20% returned, but the company pays out 200%. Moreover, it's quite a lot easier to join the class than it is to file suit or enter arbitration on your own. So they maybe give full 100% compensation (+ maybe 50% in court/arbitration costs) to 10% of the customers and it's a "win-win". But really it gives them a much wider margin in which to screw the end user because it basically guarantees that potential costs will not exceed the profits from doing so (this being especially true for software companies where the cost per person is basically zero so _if_ they have to return your payment it's just a wash). While the law firm may take a huge and unfair cut, ideally that money is being pulled from a gaping wound in the company, in a way they hope to avoid.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838235)

It just seems wrong that a product EULA can make you forfeit your rights like this.

It's not making you do shit you self-entitled twat. If you don't like the terms then don't agree to them.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838405)

class action seldom really benefits anyone but the law firms.

Completely doesn't matter and Value only mentioned it to distract you from the fact that they can now screw over all of their customers and the only consequence for them will be a little bad PR if anyone notices the extra screwing.

Class action suits' only objective is to punish the company. If Value added an illegal one cent fine every time you bought something from them no single person could take them to court, but they'd make a ton of extra money. A class action lawsuit is the only thing preventing companies from doing that. If they lost the class action, they'd have to pay back all those pennies plus lawyer fees. Now with the new EULA, they'll never have to deal with the lawsuit and can/will nickle and dime everyone to death as often as they want with no consequences. The extra money they make will easily buy enough good PR to offset the bad PR. Keep in mind it doesn't have to be an extra fee, it could be skimping on quality or lying about a food's fat content.

Also, it is the law firms that do all the work in class action suits. Why shouldn't they get the benefits? All you have to do is send in your name and address so they can send you your meager winnings. Simple. The lawyers are the ones who do the research and press the case.

I'll repeat because people seem to more and more only have a me me me attitude and can't grasp bigger concepts. A class action suit's objective is to punish the company for doing wrong. Take it away and they will do wrong. What would you do if you could never go to jail?

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838699)

I don't know about US law, but in my local law it is impossible for any kind of contract to remove legal rights like this.
Ofcourse, this is assuming a EULA is considered a legal document at all, which apparently rarely holds up in court in my country.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838975)

Not true. Many contracts worldwide detail how conflicts should be resolved, usually through arbitration. However, those are contracts which you sign. For an 'I agree' EULA this is quite new.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

fredprado (2569351) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839143)

But the laws in many countries in the world do not allow you to forfeit your legal rights by contract. Here, for example, a contract's clausal that forbids you from suing a person or a company in any way is null and void.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839331)

It just seems wrong that a product EULA can make you forfeit your rights like this.

But at the same time they are absolutely correct, class action seldom really benefits anyone but the law firms.

They can't. At least not in the USA. You cannot contract away your rights. All kinds of laws would be utterly pointless if it were possible to do so, from ending slavery to minimum wage, just about every consumer protection law ever really.

When you scroll waaaay down an EULA one of the last clauses in it as some ass covering wording about how any clause that is illegal in your jurisdiction doesn't apply, or words to that effect.

They just count on nobody every calling them on it.

On that note, I do agree that class actions are bullshit, only the lawyers get rich, and after they take their cut, the settlement divided someodd thousand ways tends to be pretty pitiful. You probably would get more out of a small claims court, and faster.

Re:I deeply dislike the end-run aroudn the courts (1)

jumpinp (1144189) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839427)

I am surprised Valve, any company really, doesn't have this included in there TOS from the get go, given the damages a class action lawsuit can bring to a company. The majority of customers don't care and can't even be bothered to read the agreement. There is hardly a downside, this clause can only improve their bottom line.

I'm not a lawyer. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837787)

What does that mean?

Re:I'm not a lawyer. (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838145)

It means your next post may qualify for a +4 moderation!

-1 Evil (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837803)

Yeah, normally I'm a big Valve fan, but I've gotta admit, I can't defend this one. I mean, they're right about "class actions only make money for the lawyers", but still...

I may not start boycotting you now, Valve, but you just lost a few points of rep with *this* faction.

Re:-1 Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837831)

Shouldn't it be +1 Evil (or -1 Good)?

Re:-1 Evil (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837867)

I was aiming more at gently ribbing /.'s mod system. I metaphorically rated Valve's action "-1, Evil".

Re:-1 Evil (2)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837873)

what is the right answer then? No one makes money on class action lawsuits expect lawyers so what benefit are they to the people that suffer? I believe in the rule of law, but corporate lawsuits are a broken system where the guilty don't go to jail.

Re:-1 Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838273)

Class action suits are filed on a contingency basis, the attorneys don't see a dime unless they win the case. Which is a large part of why they end up keeping so much of the money, they've got bills to pay and interest on any loans and they don't always win.

I'm usually up for bashing lawyers, but the money they get here is legitimate.

Re:-1 Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838535)

Nonsense. They are investing. Proper investors will fight hard for the opportunity for a average 10% return. Why do lawyers get hundreds of times what they put in? With appeals processes, or the like, they even get more than one shot to win.

Re:-1 Evil (1)

Patent Lover (779809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838745)

There goes $4 from Valve.

Re:-1 Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838905)

Rather hypocritical of you, if it were any other company I'm sure you'd be quite sure about your supposed "boycott."

If the best you can muster in response to this is "okay Valve, I may or may not stop buying your products now" posted in a Slashdot comment then nothing is going to change. Either buy their products or don't.

Is this even legally binding? (1)

klingers48 (968406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837819)

I'm not going to pretend to have much of a legal mind, but the whole EULA-manged arbitration process isn't really legally binding isn't it? If someone wants to start a lawsuit (class action or not), can't they just file papers and well... Sue Valve? Whether or not it becomes a class-action lawsuit would have more to do with the plaintiff's request being approved by a presiding judge wouldn't it?

Re:Is this even legally binding? (2)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837909)

Unfortunately yes, it does seem to be legally binding. MS, Sony and various others have got in on the act long before Valve.

IIRC there was a decision in the Supreme Court that allowed this.

Individuals can still sue, I'm pretty sure this only applies to class action, and with the Sony agreements you can opt-out of the clause in their EULA by sending them a letter (yes, on dead trees).

Re:Is this even legally binding? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838009)

I have my exemption to their EULA posted on the side of my machine. If they don't agree to my modified terms, all they have to do is notify me by letter.

Still haven't received one.

Re:Is this even legally binding? (3, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838461)

Unfortunately yes, it does seem to be legally binding.

If you live in Canada, the ruling is not binding. In Ontario for example, you're protected under the CPA(Consumer Protection act 2002). [gov.on.ca] This law, ensures that no company may remove, or attempt to strip away your legal rights to sue, or force you into binding arbitration via contract, ToS, or EULA.

This comes from the case Kanitz v Rogers Cable [wikipedia.org]

Re:Is this even legally binding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838917)

Are you serious that US law now allows the imposition of contractual terms post contract agreement without explicit agreement of the terms? (This is my reading of EULA, which are not binding in Uk). Home of the free to land of the sold :(

Re:Is this even legally binding? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837911)

An anonymous coward provided this link [typepad.com] further upthread:

Re:Is this even legally binding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837917)

IANAL, but I did watch the SouthPark episode "The Human Cent-iPad"

After watching it again on southparkstudios.com I think I will put my iPhone 4 on Craig's List because I didn't read the EULA before I started using it. I'm seriously you guys.

opt out (4, Interesting)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837891)

I sent an email to sales@steam.com that bounced back and then I forwarded to webmaster@steam.com

I told them that I would not give up my rights as an american to have a jury of my peers, and since I notified them of that I would then accept the altered terms of the EULA based on that statement.

They did not respond before I clicked it.

I don't think they should be able to steal my money if I do not agree (by not allowing me to play the games I purchase if I do not agree) so I figure in the unlikely event that this EULA would ever matter, I could at least hope for a sympathetic judge when I explained how drunk I was when I came up with this plan. //toddles off to get another beer.

Re:opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838429)

I sent an email to sales@steam.com that bounced back and then I forwarded to webmaster@steam.com [...] They did not respond before I clicked it.

I'm not sure what 'the former home of Steam Tunnel Operations' [steam.com] is going to do with your email?

Re:opt out (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838477)

that's not my problem.

They don't give me options to change the eula, I don't care if they aren't at the email they should be.

Beer!

Re:opt out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838887)

He means you should have sent the email to valvesoftware.com or steampowered.com, not to someone else. You didn't notify them of the changed conditions and accepted theirs. Enjoy your beer.

Re:opt out (2)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838555)

Now I'm just imagining the day the poor schmuck who's Steam Tunnel Operations' webmaster is going to have tomorrow, starting with that e-mail, a few followups from other Slashdotters, and topped off by a heaping helping of spam.

Re:opt out (4, Insightful)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838445)

I don't understand, If I don't accept this new EULA, will I get a refund for all my games or what?

Re:opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839437)

You STILL don't understand? You don't "own" information. It's physically as much nonsense as saying "let's go north" ON NORTH POLE! ^^

It says "license" for a reason. (Yeah, the part about "buying" is bullshit, and at best, can only refer to the license itself.)

Software is a the result of a service. You pay for that service. Unfortunately you chose to pay for a service that gives you only encrypted software, and chose not to capture the key when they sent it to you to decrypt it to play the game.

Stupidity/ignorance always hurts. It's supposed to hurt. So you learn from it. Let's see if you do this time...

Re:opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839215)

I sent an email to sales@steam.com that bounced back and then I forwarded to webmaster@steam.com

I told them that I would not give up my rights as an american to have a jury of my peers, and since I notified them of that I would then accept the altered terms of the EULA based on that statement.

They did not respond before I clicked it.

I don't think they should be able to steal my money if I do not agree (by not allowing me to play the games I purchase if I do not agree) so I figure in the unlikely event that this EULA would ever matter, I could at least hope for a sympathetic judge when I explained how drunk I was when I came up with this plan. //toddles off to get another beer.

You do know that the website is steampowered.com, not steam.com?

Too bad it's no legally enforceable.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837923)

Luckily I live in a state where that is illegal to do - so it doesn't matter.

Fuck em...

Re:Too bad it's no legally enforceable.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838703)

It's too bad the supreme court overruled your state [typepad.com] .

Ur fucked...

Re:Too bad it's no legally enforceable.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839355)

Ha! I live in Europe (I'm not the OP though). So it's still not legal.

Well, this will last... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837973)

Till the class-action lawyers get into the action and lobby for some law or amendment voiding those parts of Contracts.

Which means we'll still be screwed.

I just wish there was a way to correct the lawyer problem. Especially the problem of making too many of them.

Re:Well, this will last... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838139)

Of course there is an obvious solution to the "lawyer problem". You institute a police state or monarchy where the little people have no rights.

Communist? Nazi? Take your pick.

Re:Well, this will last... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838459)

Capitalist?

Class action lawyers are scum (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837981)

Lets be real.. These people aren't the ones Hollywood has portrayed thm to be.. Going against all odds and even facing death threats to save the little man. They know that 1/3rd plus of that $100m lawsuit they bilked out of some company will land squarely in their pockets. These dirt bags can't be defended, they are indefensible. Greed drives them, just as greed drives the majority of people that participate in them. That in the end, rot or wrong, they can get that $.25 off a .

There are better ways. I don't like Valve... But I can't blame them in this. In the mean time, I hope the ass hat lawyers that contact me non-stop about class action lawsuits they are "filing on my behalf" jump off a bridge.

EULA lawyers vs. Class Action Lawyers. Popcorn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837995)

Pop the corn. Really. Who cares? I'm from DC and this is like watching Philly play New York. Is there any way they can both lose? No? Sucky game.

Good (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838299)

class action lawsuits are bullshit that enrich a handful of lawyers and does jack shit for everyone else. Hell, it's worse than jack shit since (if you were actually harmed) you can't bring your own lawsuit unless you opt out of the settlement (assuming you even know about it).

Well that's odd (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838361)

I just restarted Steam and saw this (again - had already RTFA and commented). It of course popped up saying "the EULA and Privacy Policy have changed, please read and agree (if you disagree, you cannot continue)". Then it showed me the new EULA.

Or rather, it tried to. The text box was blank. I clicked through before I thought to grab a screenshot, otherwise I'd have one hell of a technicality should I ever want to sue them.

Class action lawsuits/lawyers are garbage anyway. (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838367)

I'm sure a whole mess of people have seen that Erin Brockovich movie about the mother turned legal aid who took on the faceless megacorp PG&E with a class action and won, giving everyone who watched the film a rosy view of the process? I mean why would Valve dare remove such an amazing system unless they're they scum of the earth right?!

Yeah except that class actions aren't usually like that. Very rarely do they ever benefit the actual people wronged. It's a good way for the lawyers to make some cash though. You know those commercials on TV to contact specific attorneys about defective items, or medications that ended up harming people? It's all a game, using your suffering as a means to profit and returning very little, if anything, to you.

There is a number of practices I disagree with regarding Valve but honestly, but I can't disagree with their view that class actions are trash. They really are. Valve isn't taking away your ability to take them to court. They're just requiring that individual claims are brought to court, rather than a broad class action.

Re:Class action lawsuits/lawyers are garbage anywa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839361)

Class action suits aren't supposed to be a wonderful revenue source for claimants, they are supposed to punish misconduct

An EULA is not a contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838437)

An EULA is not a contract

Frist 5top (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838511)

users. uThis is herse, please do

Good For Them (1)

Fulminata (999320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838521)

Most class action suits are scams anyway. Just today I received notice of one that I'm included in being filed against Netflix for alleged privacy violations. The lawyers are seeking $9 million. I won't list the whole breakdown of the proposed settlement, but the lawyers are keeping $2.25 million (not including expenses), while the plaintiffs get a whopping $30,000 to split between however many thousand there end up being.

If Valve screws you over, you can still sue them as an individual, this just limits the ability of glorified ambulance chasers to make outrageous amounts of money in exchange for getting their supposed clients a settlement worth less than the cost of a good meal.

Re:Good For Them (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838807)

I won't list the whole breakdown of the proposed settlement, but the lawyers are keeping $2.25 million (not including expenses), while the plaintiffs get a whopping $30,000 to split between however many thousand there end up being.

In this specific instance, the six named plantiffs are getting $5,000 each. Everyone else is getting exactly nothing.

Re:Good For Them (1)

Fulminata (999320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839001)

Good point. So, the attorneys in this suit are effectively removing the rights of everyone in the "class" to sue over this issue in exchange for absolutely nothing. Further, they emailed me the notice, but in order to opt out I need to send a letter to a post office box in Minnesota. This information is not listed on the page the email links to, rather I had to search a moderately lengthy FAQ to find it.

Valve is doing their customers a service by including this in the EULA.

Dumb America and Corporate takeovers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838525)

If you allow Corporations or individuals to announce that they are exempting themselves from certain legal processes then they are, effectively, saying "we are above the law and can do as we please". The correct response should be "if a group of your customers join together and sue you - tough - you should have looked after them better". But you can no more excuse yourself from Class Actions than you can excuse yourself from the laws on murder, or theft.

To Apply for an Arbritration Claim Form . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838545)

. . . please make an appointment with our claims appointment office by U.S. Mail (P.O. Box 101, Morpwar, TX 52577) or Telex (76622234). Claim forms must be recieved in person at the time of the appointment. The address of your regional claims form reception office will be provided to you if your application for an appointment is approved. Arbitration claim forms must be neatly completed in ink or typewriter and five notarized copies sent by authorized courier to the Arbitration Claims Reception Center (712 Manknar Center Road, Suite 12b, Manknar WY). A refundable arbitration claim fee must be remitted by postal money order to the Arbitration Claim Fee escrow agent within ten days of notification of the receipt of your arbitration claim forms.

If your arbitration claim is rejected, your fee will be refunded in the form of a American Express gift card. To get your card, submit a arbitration claim fee refund form to . . .

They make a valid point. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838559)

I've joined a couple of class action suits over the years and it always ends up with a $4.00 coupon for me and $20,000,000 for the lawyers.

LK

Re:They make a valid point. (1)

Patent Lover (779809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838759)

$4 coupon! Dude you made out like a gangbuster. I've never made more than 99 cents. Enjoy being in the top 1%.

In a normal country... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838773)

...an agreement between any two or more entities can not supersede any rights granted by the laws of that country.
I suppose that your rights are maybe not so well defined in the laws of USA as you probably think they are... if they are, you simply can sue Valve (and the other companies) for violating those laws.

Bad for us, but meh. (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838805)

I want to be mad about this--I don't like losing any of my rights--but...

  1. indeed, CALs ultimately have little impact on customers (yay a coupon) or corporations (yay another small regulatory tax expense that we overcharge our little consumers to pay for in the first place);
  2. I clicked "I agree" because I kinda thought they already had terms like that the last one or two times they altered the deal [youtube.com] (unless I was thinking of other games I've played); and
  3. do I reeeeeeeeeeally want to lose my catalog of games that runs from a Half-Life 2 ATI card preorder...offer...thing to a Torchlight 2 preorder...offer...thing for not indemnifying and holding them harmless or whathaveyou as they see fit? I'm a tad invested in that system now.

So, meh. I'll wait until the courts grow a backbone [slashdot.org] . Any victory I gain from a boycott or a protest would be minimal if not pyrrhic.

Are there any limits on EULA? (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838823)

The EULA can require that you give up your first born to be eaten by rabid weasels. It doesn't mean it's legal or that you have to actually do it. They've reduced EULA's to the level of a joke. The only reason they matter is most can't aford the lawyers to fight them!

Re:Are there any limits on EULA? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838909)

It's time to make sure that there is a legal precedent set into what really can be written in an EULA and invalidate all the EULA:s that are stepping over the legal bounds.

Re:Are there any limits on EULA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839269)

Dutch law has a more sane approach. A EULA (or FOSS license) has no legal status as long as you use the software for its intended purpose. Normal consumer protection laws apply. When you do things with the software it was not intended for the license terms do apply.

If you buy a game you can play the game without worrying aboute the EULA, if you buy a word processor you can do all the word processing you like. But games and word processors are not sold or marketed as reverse engineering material, so once you start reverse engineering them the license terms do apply (assuming there are no other laws they are in conflict with, of course).

IANAL, but a lawyer explained this to me once and this is how I remember it. I think the approach is sane because it's crazy if you can be bound by terms you didn't agree to *before* bought the software; it ensures that software you buy in a shop is just another item you buy in a shop and not something with entirely different rules, you get what you expect to get; but it does give the maker a way to say you can't reverse engineer the software or export it to Iran.

Valve declares itself judge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838925)

of disputes involving itself.

This is going to be good.

Bah, Whatever (1)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839053)

I'm annoyed at valve for this (door-closing, even if it's actually not enforceable) earns a black mark in my book. Ultimately however, I don't think I give a damn. Valve would have to really start spiraling down the Evil Drain for me to actually care about suing them, much less joining a class-action lawsuit against them. There's also the bit about paying the arbitration fees (yes, I read the fine print go away) that tells me they're doing this more in a CYA move than because they've decided to be evil. They make boatloads of cash off of us already without being evil. I wouldn't put it past them to start being evil, but my experience with Valve and their Steam platform has been without flaw up to this point.

By all means, let me know if the water starts to boil around me. So far as I can tell, it's still ice cold against my smooth green skin...

Independent arbitration should be illlegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839113)

Every citizen has a right to fair trial. Corporations owning their own fake judges and courtrooms is not at all fair.

dev/null (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839335)

time to uninstall

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