By Jared Newman | Friday, October 2, 2009 at 3:36 pm
I got a chuckle today reading about the failed lawsuit of Playstation 3 owner Erik Estavillo, who tried to sue Sony after getting banned from the Playstation Network for bad behavior.
If you’ve ever played a competitive online game, you know the type: Loud-mouthed, cussing, insulting, maybe even racist, sexist or homophobic. It’s not clear which of those offenses Estavillo committed while playing Resistance: Fall of Man, but it was apparently bad enough that Sony kicked him off the entire Playstation Network.
A few months ago, Estavillo sued Sony for $55,000 and asked that the company be enjoined from banning other players, on grounds that his right to free speech in a public forum was violated. He added that his agoraphobia (social anxiety) precludes him from socializing in public, so PSN was his only outlet. Estavillo further claimed that Sony effectively stole his pre-paid Playstation Store points.
Too bad. Game Politics reports that a judge has dismissed the case, ruling that a First Amendment claim isn’t plausible. After all, it’s Sony’s private network, and when you sign on, you agree to Sony’s rules. If there’s any question that PSN is like a public place, the tech law blog of Eric Goldman further notes that Sony’s network wasn’t considered a “company town,” because it doesn’t take on any functions of a municipality, virtual or otherwise. PSN is an entertainment venue, not a public service.
The bottom line is, you don’t have First Amendment rights in online gaming. You do have a responsibility to be courteous to those around you. For all the times that people ignore those principles in Resistance, Halo or Gears of War, I’ve got to pump my fist for the minor victories.