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Games Your Rights Online

Valve Removes Right For Class Action Claims From EULA 270

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-all-sue-them-for-this dept.
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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Valve Removes Right For Class Action Claims From EULA

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  • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:24PM (#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.

  • -1 Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:26PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:27PM (#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.

  • 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...

  • by morcego (260031) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:55PM (#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:Sadly true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @11:57PM (#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.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:06AM (#40838161)

    class action seldom really benefits anyone but the law firms

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

  • by Artraze (600366) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:14AM (#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:opt out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SolitaryMan (538416) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @12:43AM (#40838445) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand, If I don't accept this new EULA, will I get a refund for all my games or what?
  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @02:12AM (#40838933) Homepage

    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.

  • by Theophany (2519296) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @04:58AM (#40839819)

    It's not about getting rich

    Tell the lawyers that.

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @05:54AM (#40840081)

    How is this better than class action lawsuits, which from my experience has the lawyers sue a company I do/did business with, end up with a settlement where the lawyers get $10 per person and I get $1 for the company's supposed screwing me illegaly for $10?

    Class action lawsuits are clearly not so you can make a lot of money. I'd say they're more for teaching the company a lesson. And frankly, I would find it absolutely idiotic if a mere EULA was able to take that right away.

  • by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:27AM (#40840229) Journal

    and indeed, if Valve ever cut off access to the games I've purchased from them, I'll be pursuing them in small claims court for the replacement cost of those games.

    That may well be less than I paid for them (or, for games I bought in a sale, maybe more) but I'll be seeking restitution not punishment.

    Class action lawsuits have always struck me as being very wrongly biased towards the lawyers. I suspect their intent is to allow people to pool resources to bring a case, but the outcome seems to generally be extremely rich lawyers.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:49AM (#40840323) Homepage

    The idea of a class-action lawsuit is ridiculous, unsatisfying nonsense perpetuated by the lawyers who profit from them.

    They can be completely legitimate.

    Imagine an electric company that overcharges all its customers $10. Now each customer in theory could sue them in small claims to win your $10 but it's probably not worth their time, which means the company would make millions by doing that. What prevents them from just doing that regularly is the risk that somebody will notice the pattern and sue them in a class action all at once rather than each individual having to try to recover their $10 on their own.

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:59AM (#40840369)

    The lawyer is using you in those suits, and it doesn't benefit anyone but them.

    Because, as said in other comments, not very many people will be willing to go to even small claims court to sue for small damages. This allows a company to rip many of its customers off with little or no repercussions. It's not really about the money.

    Why would you want to take their money and put it in the pockets of some weasley fucker who just wants to use your problem to pay off his house?

    You hate lawyers so class action lawsuits shouldn't be allowed? I don't understand this mentality at all. If the company was the one who ripped me off, I'd rather have the money be in the hands of the "weasely fucker" than the company.

    Don't we have enough bullshit in the courts today?

    Obviously they shouldn't be able to win frivolous lawsuits.

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:28AM (#40840509)

    The answer is to sue individually

    Yeah, and how many people are going to do that when the damages are small? Most likely, not very many. Which means the company can pretty much do whatever they please.

    Besides, if I want to enter a class action lawsuit, that's my choice. If I want to risk getting less money than I lost from getting ripped off, that is, again, my choice. I don't see why people want to remove that choice from individuals just because they hate lawyers.

  • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @08:33AM (#40840923) Journal
    I know it will sound trollish, but this is for reasons like this one that I don't think I will ever live or make business in the US (unless I have a big legal department one day). In France, you can accept EULA knowing that some legal rights are not circumventable. I can buy stuff online and click "accept", I know that I have 3 (or 5, can't remember) days to cancel the order.

    Living in a country where a single click or the buy of a DVD or a hardware device can void your democratically decided rights is really dangerous.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @09:38AM (#40841553)

    So what am I supposed to do in this case?

    Not buy DRM ridden software for one. It's your own fault for locking yourself in their platform. Let that be a lesson.

  • by ifrag (984323) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @11:31AM (#40842945)

    This allows a company to rip many of its customers off with little or no repercussions. It's not really about the money.

    I suppose at some future time if Steam did decide ripping people off was in their best interest it could, at least briefly. However I think Steam at present is smart enough not to do so.

    With the disaster that was the RAGE release, a lot of people had a non-working product in their library. Some were willing to wait out driver releases and some just wanted their money back. From everything I read on the forums, it sounded like people were quite easily able to get refunded for their purchases (I'm assuming the game is somehow removed from their library, at least that's how it worked when I asked for a refund from Impulse). I think in most cases, Steam is willing to work with users.

    Perhaps in some hypothetical future Steam will turn to the dark side and this will matter, but it doesn't seem likely.

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