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40 prohibited clauses in the PSN Terms of Service

A total of 40 illegal clauses in the PSN terms of use – that’s quite a lot, and it’s not the first time Sony has been warned about it. What preempts the company, however, is the sluggish thoroughness of the courts, because a few months after an appeal was rejected, the terms of use were changed and partially improved – a new lawsuit will probably be necessary.

The history

On October 1, 2017, Sony updated the PSN Terms of Service (see HERE). It contains many clauses that are more than legally questionable, which is why Sony received a warning from the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center in September 2018 (see HERE).

For example, the terms of use state or state that Sony can simply delete the PSN credit after 24 months if it has not been used. The full liability of the parents for all costs incurred (for games or in-game purchases) by the underage children was also criticized – although from a purely legal point of view they only have limited legal capacity.

The statutory right of revocation is also circumvented in the terms of use: as soon as you start a download, there is no longer a chance of revocation, but this is not pointed out before the download begins.

However, since Sony did not react, the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) then sued the group in 2019. However, service of the lawsuit on August 13, 2019 was not accepted by Sony because it was not written in a language they understand – although Sony operates internationally and also has many German-speaking customers.

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In March 2020 (see HERE), Sony’s appeal was dismissed, so the VKI’s lawsuit remained.

The defendant PSN Terms of Service

A total of 40 clauses of the terms of use valid at this time (i.e. early 2020) have now been declared inadmissible in a not yet final judgment of the Vienna Higher Regional Court (see HERE). In addition to the points mentioned above (deletion of credit after 24 months, full liability of parents), the ban on transferring PSN credit and the automatic conversion of a free subscription to a paid subscription were also criticized.

Since other gaming platforms and online services have similar clauses in their terms of use, the judgment should point the way not only in Austria, but also in other European countries.

Sony anticipated the verdict

As mentioned above, the lawsuit was against the terms of use valid at the time (see HERE), all clauses mentioned in the lawsuit (see HERE) can also be found there. But if you look at the current terms of use (see HERE), you will be surprised, because they are structured very differently and have been reformulated.

For example, the clause “6. (ix) You must use funds added to your PSN Wallet within 24 months.‘ moved and changed to ‘18,2. Your credit is valid for 36 months from the time it is topped up.“. So only 12 months were appended, but this clause is still inadmissible!

Sony thus simply anticipated the verdict: After their appeal was rejected in March 2020, they completely changed the terms of use in October 2020 – even if the lawsuit becomes final, it will affect terms of use that are no longer valid.

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The question is now open as to whether the current verdict can be applied to the new terms of use or whether it has to be reworded due to the changes. A reallocation is rather unlikely, as the previously criticized non-existent right of withdrawal, for example, has now been clearly formulated in the new terms of use.

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