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Sony sued over PlayStation Network no-suing rules

The publisher of the popular online service unilaterally imposed a no-lawsuit clause in its terms of service. Now--oh, the irony--it is facing a lawsuit alleging unfair business practices.

I guess this didn't go the way Sony wanted it.

In September, after the much-hyped hacking of the PlayStation Network, Sony instituted new language in its terms of service forcing PSN users to agree not to sue the company.

But according to CNET sister site GameSpot, some didn't take kindly to being strong-armed in that way. And now, a Northern California man has filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status against Sony "on behalf of all customers who purchased a PlayStation 3 and signed up for PSN access before the September change to [the PSN] terms of service."

The lawsuit contends that Sony's decision to unilaterally institute the no-suing clause in its terms of service was an unfair business practice because it forced consumers to choose either to give up their rights or to forgo their access to the popular PSN service, through which they can play multiplayer games, download new content, buy add-ons, and more.

"The suit says Sony buried the clause section describing the changes near the bottom of a 21-page form viewable through the PS3," GameSpot wrote, "and neglected to post an easily accessible version of the form online, even though it had done so with past user agreement updates. While the suit notes that Sony allowed an opt-out from the class-action provision, the only way for consumers to do that was to contact the company in writing (no emails, phone calls, or online forms accepted) within 30 days."

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNET.

Apparently, Sony is not the only company trying to sneak this kind of no-lawsuit clause into its terms of service. According to Geek.com, both Microsoft and Electronic Arts have now followed Sony's lead. That means "if anything goes wrong with your Sony or Microsoft online services, there's not much you can do about it," Geek.com wrote. "The same is true for EA's Origin service."

The lawsuit was filed November 28 in federal court in Northern California.