New Netflix Terms of Service Adds A “No Lawsuits” Clause

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There’s been something of a trend lately when it comes to Terms of Service agreements. More and more, companies seem to be using these fine print agreements to force users to agree to things they might not be too keen on. Things like giving up their right to participate in a class-action lawsuit. AT&T did it. Sony did it. Ditto for Microsoft and EA. Now Netflix is coming to the party with a handy, all caps clause informing you that when you agree to the Terms of Service to watch old episodes of Fraggle Rock or whatever, you agree to give up your right to go to court.

The offending section of the new Terms of Service reads as follows:

These Terms of Use provide that all disputes between you and Netflix will be resolved by BINDING ARBITRATION. YOU AGREE TO GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO GO TO COURT to assert or defend your rights under this contract (except for matters that may be taken to small claims court). Your rights will be determined by a NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR and NOT a judge or jury and your claims cannot be brought as a class action.

The emphasis is theirs, so you can’t really accuse them of trying to “slip it by you” or anything. That being said, the real kicker of these changes comes at the very end. Sure, you’re giving up your “RIGHT TO GO TO COURT,” but more importantly, you’re giving up your right to be part of a class-action lawsuit. That means if you want to get something out of Netflix, you’ll have to do all the legwork yourself, like this guy did with AT&T. That’s not to say it’ll never work, but it’s probably going to be a pain.

If this all seems questionably legal to you, you’re not alone. When Sony tried to adopt their no-sue clause, they got hit by one of those class-action lawsuits they were specifically looking to avoid. Likewise, AT&T caught some flack for the inclusion of their clause, but in AT&T’s case, the new Terms of Service agreement was ultimately upheld. Since that’s the case, chances are that Netflix’s bid to say goodbye to class-action lawsuits is probably going to be successful as well.

If you’re anything like the average consumer, a change like this may not seem heartening, but it’s probably not going to make you cancel your subscription, which is probably what Netflix is counting on. Considering their questionable track record, however, it might be prudent to keep your eyes open to anything that seems a little fishy.

(via Slashdot)

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