While the big news on Friday may have been the delay of Sony's ertswhile console-seller LittleBigPlanet, gamers also received a curt e-mail from Sony letting them know that the terms of service for the PlayStation 3 have changed. "If you do not agree with the revised Terms of Service and User Agreement, please contact Customer Service to terminate your account(s). Otherwise, your or your Sub Account's continued use of your PLAYSTATION(R)Network accounts means you agree to the changes," the e-mail tells you. Let's dig into the new terms and see what it means for gamers. Here's a slight spoiler warning: you'll be slightly concerned.
The first section of changes says that you should be of legal age to hold the main account on the system, and children under the age of 15 should be kept to a subaccount, although Sony does take pains to say there is no way to keep certain kinds of online content away from any account. So be a good parent, dang it! When you reach "the legal age of majority," you can have your own Master account. This is standard stuff; Sony needs to make sure it can't be sued because of children seeing or hearing inappropriate things when they play online. It goes downhill from there.
Sony also has the right to keep records of anything you say or do online, or to simply listen in. "SCEA reserves the right to monitor and record any online activity and communication throughout PSN and you give SCEA your express consent to monitor and record your activities," the agreement reads. "Any data collected in this way, including the content of your communications, the time and location of your activities, your Online ID and IP address and other related information may be used by us to enforce this Agreement or protect the interests of SCEA, its users, or licensors." This is not the place to discuss your pirated copy of Resistance, in other words, or how you're planning on using custom firmware on your PSP.
Ars broke the story about the rather limiting DRM imposed on video purchases made through the PS3, and the inability to redownload your video content whenever you'd like is a big turn-off for the service. Sony has added an extra-special kick in the junk to the agreement as well, saying it has no responsibility for the data once you have downloaded it. "You bear all risk of loss for completing the download of any content and for any loss of content you have downloaded, including any loss due to a file corruption or hard drive crash.You are solely responsible for the storage and safekeeping of your content," the agreement warns. "SCEA is not responsible for providing you with replacement copies for any reason."
This makes video purchases a bad idea: you can't re-download your content if anything happens to it, and you've already agreed that Sony doesn't have to help you if their hardware goes bad. Thanks, guys. The agreement even goes so far to state that it's okay if things don't work. "No warranty is given about the quality, functionality, availability or performance of PSN, or any content offered on or through PSN... SCEA assumes no liability for any inability to purchase access to or use any content"
The other section heavily modified has to do with user-created content. With LittleBigPlanet and Guitar Hero: World Tour allowing you to create whole songs and levels respectively, Sony wants to make sure they can use whatever you create without being caught in any legal entanglements. "To the extent permitted by law, You authorize and license SCEA a royalty free and perpetual right to use, distribute, copy, modify, display, and publish your User Material for any reason without any restrictions or payments to you or any third parties," Sony explains. "You further agree that SCEA may sublicense its rights to any third party, including its affiliates and subsidiaries. You hereby waive all claims, including any moral rights, against SCEA, its affiliates and subsidiaries for SCEA or any other third party's use of User Material to the extent permitted by applicable law." You make it, they own it—done deal... according to your user agreement.
User agreements exist for one reason: to cover the company's butt in the widest and most far-reaching way possible. With the exception of the video DRM it may be a while before we see any adverse practices come from this strongly worded agreement, if we ever do at all. That said, Sony is giving gamers much to worry about.
Official Agreement - http://www.us.playstation.com/support/useragreements/15
Nice of them to be able to steal users ideas rather than hire people to make their own ;)