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Microsoft's Xbox Video Upgrade Arrives
Alongside Walled Gardens and Eroded Legal Rights
by Karl Bode 02:39PM Friday Dec 09 2011
Microsoft this week released their much-ballyhooed Xbox 360 dashboard update, which includes a significant emphasis on "new" video content. In reality the update is largely aesthetic in nature, with most of the video upgrades not offering new content for those shelling out $60 a year for an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Netflix, Hulu Plus and other existing services got a redesign, but new additions like Epix simply redirect you to paywalled VOD options. Promised integration of FiOS and Comcast content (available only if you subscribe to both broadband and TV services from those companies) have also yet to materialize.

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One thing that did show up was new terms of service language that prohibits users of Xbox Live from participating in class action lawsuits against the company. You'll recall that nearly every company under the sun has been including this language in their terms of service after the Supreme Court recently told AT&T that eroding consumer legal rights in fine print was perfectly acceptable. Microsoft is circulating a press statement saying you cannot opt out if you want to continue using the service:
quote:
Users must agree to the new clause to the Terms of Use in order to continue using Xbox LIVE. Changes to the Terms of Use are designed to ensure that our customers have an easy way to file a dispute without requiring formal legal action. They may now bring a dispute to our attention by filling out a simple Notice of Dispute form found at www.xbox.com/notice and mailing in documentation in support of their claim.
As we've noted previously, such language has nothing to do with making things "easier" on customers, and everything to do with forcing users into binding arbitration -- where arbitration companies hired by Microsoft (or AT&T, or Sony, or Cablevision) rule in favor of their employers a significant majority of the time. While there's certainly a debate to be had over the disproportionate benefits lawyers enjoy in class actions, eroding a customer's legal options solely benefits the corporation.

That aside, it remains interesting that the highlight Microsoft's hyped broadband-video improvements so far involves obnoxious fine print that erodes your legal options. Customers complain that many of the GUI options (particularly the Netflix redesign) fix things that aren't broken, while the new video options -- aren't really particularly new. The cable and broadcast industry is terrified that Internet video will erode their legacy cash cow, and continues to ensure that every new product released is as uninteresting as possible -- unless you subscribe to traditional television.

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DeathK
Premium
join:2002-06-16
Cincinnati, OH

Class-action still worthless...

While "eroding a customer's legal options solely benefits the corporation" may be true, class-action lawsuits are still pretty much worthless for the end user. They only serve to line lawyers' pockets.

How about including the rest of the statement:
quote:
We will then work to resolve the dispute to their satisfaction within 60 days. Any customer unsatisfied with the outcome of this informal process may easily initiate arbitration with the American Arbitration Association.

Customers may also choose to bring their claims in their local small claims court if they meet the normal jurisdictional requirements. For detailed information, please visit: »www.xbox.com/en-US/Legal/LiveTOU.
The only legal option that's been taken away from customers is class-action lawsuits.
--
Photos By Greg Strong

LordFlux

join:2005-04-20

Re: Class-action still worthless...

I didn't realize it, but I was part of a class action lawsuit against eBay. Got a check for 14 cents a few days ago. ^_^

I do like the new 360 dashboard from a gamer standpoint. The Games Library speed has been significantly increased -- what used to take 5 minutes to load now takes about 20 seconds.

shimonmor
Premium
join:2000-12-30
Sedro Woolley, WA

Re: Class-action still worthless...

said by LordFlux:

I didn't realize it, but I was part of a class action lawsuit against eBay. Got a check for 14 cents a few days ago. ^_^

I do like the new 360 dashboard from a gamer standpoint. The Games Library speed has been significantly increased -- what used to take 5 minutes to load now takes about 20 seconds.

You got ripped off! I got 59 cents.
BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA

Re: Class-action still worthless...

he got a big bargain. I got 6 cents.
pusta

join:2010-08-23
Dallas, TX

Re: Class-action still worthless...

11 cents here. Not sure if I am going to bother depositing it

MrMoody
Free range slave
Premium
join:2002-09-03
Smithfield, NC
said by shimonmor:

You got ripped off! I got 59 cents.

You're all pikers, I got $2.92.

Class action lawsuits only benefit the lawyers, losing that ability is no loss at all.
--
"When all you have in the country is people pulling coffees, flipping burgers and manufacturing financial scams, your nation is doomed."-Karl Denninger,market-ticker.org
xrobertcmx
Premium
join:2001-06-18
Sterling, VA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Class-action still worthless...

Wrong, I was able to get $13 from the recording industry years ago, $2400 from a company that wrongfully terminated about three hundred of us illegally when they tried to buy out a former employer and failed to pay us our accumulated leave time and a few other things owed. And funny, I think the legal cost, plus payout, plus bad press might have taught them a lesson. Outsource!
--
Retaking our country one election at a time.

Bootes
Premium
join:2005-01-28
New York, NY

1 recommendation

Class action lawsuits do help the end user. They keep the companies honest. You may only be getting a check for $0.15, but the company is paying out millions overall. This gives them an incentive to not do things that could cause a lawsuit.

Now, without these class action lawsuits, there won't be anything stopping them. The few people willing to fight the corporation won't be able to hurt the company enough for it to matter.
itnetpro

join:2001-10-28
Downingtown, PA

Re: Class-action still worthless...

You live in a dream world if you really think Class Action Lawsuits benefit consumers in most cases. The reality is that cost are always carried over to the consumer in one way or another and its us who pay to line the pockets of ambulance chasing lawyers. If your a lawyer who spends their days dreaming up new ways to make money by looking for companies to sue then its all good. If you just six pack Joe who goes to work every day to earn a living then your out of luck.

You know it's funny when you consider that most politicians in this county have law degrees. This is why the system will never change. I should have taken up law...

kellarlln1

join:2012-01-13
Yakima, WA
thank you!
amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

no thanks MS

I don't think it erodes rights against the hardware as per some discussion on ARSTechnica the other day... just the 'live' service. Still sucks.

Since I stopped paying for 'live' service, I'm not going to bother updating. Just updated the console the other day, but it's not tied to 'live' anymore, so perhaps it'll just stay right there until it gets the RROD (eventually, I'm sure it will since it's the old model w/out HDMI).

My 360 is perfectly good as a media center extender, and possibly the occasional game. PS3 still does fine for Netflix, and the occasional game. I don't use either for online gaming, and don't really care.

At least MS is adding more options for video, I have to say it's a neat idea in theory.

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.................

#sand......................................................
--
BlooMe

buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Local Playback

more formats supported? like mkv maybe?

Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC
Reviews:
·Hargray Cable

Re: Local Playback

said by buzz_4_20:

more formats supported? like mkv maybe?

Truthfully a hackers format. Don't expect a format that is used heavily in the torrent world to be built in. The Chinese do a wonderful job of making their cheap hardware play everything under the sun but don't expect MS to join in. I have a $18 DVD player that plays everything from Walmart and I haven't tried but I bet it's easy to defeat the country code as well.
zefie

join:2007-07-18
Hudson, NY
Reviews:
·DSL EXTREME
·Verizon Wireless..

Re: Local Playback

It isn't just the knockoffs, I have a Samsung Blu-ray player that plays my mkv files with no issues.

MS is just too far in with the video companies, as if this update wasn't an obvious sign of that. And even if they did add mkv, you'd probably have to pay for Gold to use it, like YouTube..
rdmiller

join:2005-09-23
Richmond, VA

1 recommendation

Karl needs to switch to decaf

He sure gets excited when everything doesn't happen overnight!

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

1 recommendation

They should have to cut a check...

Here's how it really should work.

The Court should rule that Microsoft can include the language that you must give up your legal rights if you want to continue using the service if they wish. However: any consumer who wishes to opt out shall be immediately REFUNDED all money spend on Xbox hardware and software and consumables.

In other words, if you want to opt out, and they won't let you and say you can no longer use the service, then they now owe you full retail price (cumulative) for all hardware, software, and consumables that you have used with your Xbox and service. IE they can't dispute or argue, but must by law cut you a check for everything you spent. Every penny.

Guess what. This stupid language and terms would then never appear---- exactly the way it should be.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

CBL B0X

@tmodns.net

Re: They should have to cut a check...

That makes too much sense!! What company in their right mind would do such a thing?!
severach

join:2002-09-12
Jackson, MI

Re: They should have to cut a check...

You mean "what court on the right dime would rule such a thing?"
sameshtdd

join:2006-01-04
Teaneck, NJ
Uhhh...no. You had full use of the hardware, software and services BEFORE they changed the TOS. The TOS you agreed to also state that they can change it at any time. So even before this clause was added, by using the XBOX you agreed to the fact that the TOS "contract" can be modified by MSFT.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: They should have to cut a check...

Guess you missed the point. It's not how it is now.... it's how it should be. Yes, it's extreme... but that's the point. If the penalty for being douchy was extreme, then, they wouldn't be douchy.

So, under ideal circumstances, if they remove your service, they owe you a refund. If this was the law, guess what, they wouldn't remove the service. That's exactly fair.

All this "you agree" stuff is actually BS and everyone knows it. You really don't agree, but under duress, you have little choice. That's really how it works.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
Rekrul

join:2007-04-21
Milford, CT

...

Maybe it's time that a class action lawsuit was brought against the Supreme Court for selling the rights of American citizens.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Lack of thorough reporting...

.... on Karl's part as usual.

You can write an address, with in 30 days, to M/S and opt out of the arbitration clause. It's not well publicized, but you can decline.

imanogre

join:2005-11-29
Smyrna, GA

Re: Lack of thorough reporting...

address please?
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
Where does it state you can do this and not loose your service?

I personally already have a letter ready to do. Just needs a stamp but I have been looking for proof your claim is valid.

RealHempman

@verizon.net

Much to-do about nothing...

Sony did this with Play Station III some time ago (if I am reading/remembering rightly, back in September). Blueray pretty much started out saying this. Apple, Kindle and many other tech goodies all havce the same language. I believe iPhone contract language is the worst in the market for such pre-emptive language.

This is what one gets when a corporation has the same constitutional rights as a private individual.

Xbugs

@pacbell.net

buggier than ever

Its buggier than ever.
Broke a bunch of older games SAVE ability.
Cant play purchased xbox live games offline now.
Slower and harder to move around than ever.
More advertisements. And they are pushing you into zune crap unethically.

But I still say its my first choice between my XBOX / PS3/ or Wii, mostly for FORZA racing sim... zoom zoom

RWC Wdbutchr

@tmodns.net

On The New Dashboard-Video Ads, DLC's And XBL as a Necessity

Unfortunately, XBL is a necessity. If you want DLC (Down Loadable Content) you must have XBL to get your expansion packs for games. Starting around the time "Borderlands Game Of The Year Edition" was released most expansion packs became DLC only. When I bought the game and found four license keys instead of a second DVD disc, I was very pissed off. I didn't need or want XBL before that.

Microsoft and the game developers are doing this for two reasons. 1.) Increase profits. 2.) Combat piracy. No physical disc means the content won't get ripped by Pirates and posted to the internet. Now you must have XBL Gold to get your expansion packs ( I don't think you can get DLC with Silver only). $60.00/year to Microsoft for the privilege of downloading items that you should be able to purchase at your local brick-and-mortar store take home and install immediately.

Instead of making one large game that fills the whole DVD, they make them smaller and pad with random numbers. Borderlands when "stripped" of it's random padding, is only 5.8 Gb. Didn't fill the whole 8.4 GB of the DVD did they? I know, Let's make smaller games, push them out quicker (lots of competition for the consumer's dollar) and then push out 4 DLC's (at $9.99 each) to make the game the size it should have been at launch. We pay over $100.00 for a $60.00 game. To be fair to Bethseda/Borderlands they aren't the only publisher doing this. I believe Microsoft wanted more money and nudged the game publishers (with a .22 to the back of the head) into line (you DO want your content on XBL don't you?) Physical disc gets sold at Best Buy/Game Stop/Amazon=NO MONEY FOR MICROSOFT!

This change to expansion pack available only by DLC has proven to be very inconvenient to me and a lot of other people. I tether off my cell phone for internet and have a 5 Gb. cap/month. Good luck downloading anything in a "reasonable" amount of time. I have to bring my X-Box to a friend's house to get my DLC's. I'm not the only one. How many people in rural areas with slow DSL or Satellite broadband can't download large files without paying excessive overage fees? The absence of physical disc DLC's has made it a lot more difficult for me and many others to enjoy the product they paid for. If, for whatever reason, XBL ceases to exist , and you have to buy a new X-Box, how do you install your expansion packs? You can't, because you have no physical disc. Let's take away as much choice and useability away from the customer as we can get away with.

On top of that, Microsoft has now loaded the new dashboard with video ads that take up bandwidth to load. Since I tether, I cannot DNS block their ads and if I want to be on Live it takes forever to finish loading. It Is not Microsoft's decision on how to allocate my 5 Gbs/month allowance. There should be a feature in the dashboard for customers with low speed connections to "opt out" of video ads and instead revert to "old" still picture ads (I am not for denying Microsoft the right to advertise on their service, only asking that I may choose which type is best for me) For those of you want to DNS block XBL ads, see this thread on Reddit: »www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments ··· ard_ads/

I hope I did not violate this site's TOS by linking to another site. If so, I apologize.