AT&T has long tried to use fine print to try and ban their customers from suing them via class action, instead forcing users into binding arbitration where corporations win more often than not
. Despite the fact that many lower courts repeatedly declared such activity violated user rights and was "unconscionable," the Supreme Court last year ruled in AT&T's favor
, opening the flood gates for every corporation to include this language in their TOS. Sony quickly added such a provision, as did video game powerhouse Electronic Arts.
Thanks to AT&T, most ISPs and companies now include the language.
Valve's Steam broadband distribution service is just the latest, several users writing in to note that Steam users are locked out of the steam forums and from using the games they own
until they agree to having fewer legal rights. User KrK
Just logged onto steam and got a audio and visual popup requiring acceptance of new terms of service---- which basically was mandatory binding Arbitration and limited or no right to sue. Just the latest to jump on the bandwagon. And it told me that acceptance was *required* to continue. In reading the Steam forums, Your account is locked until you agree. If you don't agree, you don't use Steam--- and you forfeit the licenses you have bought, and oh, no refunds.
Valve is justifying the move as such:
Most significant to the new dispute resolution terms is that customers may now only bring individual claims, not class action claims. We considered this change very carefully. It’s clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers. In far too many cases however, class actions don’t provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims. Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities.
Nobody really likes class action lawyers and they're easy to scapegoat in this instance, so some folks tend to cheerlead the erosion of their own legal options simply because they hate class action lawyers. Still, the fact remains that some class actions are very
beneficial to consumers, and Valve has joined a long list of companies trying to ban them all -- to protect their own digital posterior at the cost of their customers legal rights.