More than three years ago, a crippling internet attack brought down Sony's PlayStation Network and interrupted service for more than a month. Legal showdowns ensued and today, people in the U.S. who used the company's online services can begin the process of getting their share of a $15 million settlement. Here's how.
E-mails have started going out today detailing what longtime users of PSN, Qriocity, or Sony Online Entertainment need to do to get the rewards being offered as part of Sony's $15 million make-good. You'll need to have had a PSN account before May 15, 2011 to qualify and some of the offerings include free games like Infamous, LittleBigPlanet and God of War HD. The wording makes a specific, probably-legally-required point of absolving Sony of any wrong-doing :1
A settlement has been reached with the Sony Entities about the illegal and unauthorized attacks (the "Intrusions") in April 2011, on the computer network systems used to provide PlayStation Network ("PSN"), Qriocity, and Sony Online Entertainment ("SOE") services. The Sony Entities deny any claims of wrongdoing in this case, and the settlement does not mean that the Sony Entities violated any laws or did anything wrong.
Who is included? The Class includes everyone in the US (including its territories) who had a PSN account, a Qriocity account, or an SOE account at any time before May 15, 2011.
What does the settlement provide?
There are various benefits, depending in part on what type of account(s) you had. Benefits you could get (if you qualify) include:
- Payment equal to paid wallet balances (if $2 or more) in PSN or SOE accounts that have been inactive since the Intrusions,
- One or more of the following: a free PS3 or PSP game, 3 free PS3 themes, or a free 3-month subscription to PlayStation Plus (once valid claims exceed $10 million, class members will still be eligible for one free month of PlayStation Plus),
- A free month of Music Unlimited for Qriocity account holders who did not have a PSN account,
- $4.50 in SOE Station Cash (amounts will be reduced proportionally if valid claims exceed $4 million).2
Identity Theft Reimbursement: If you had out-of-pocket charges due to actual identity theft, and have documentation proving that the theft was caused by the Intrusion(s), you can submit a claim for reimbursement up to $2,500. Reimbursements will be reduced proportionally if the total amount payable on all valid claims would exceed $1 million.
How can I get benefits? To get benefits, you must file a claim form. Claim forms are available at WWW.PSNSOESETTLEMENT.COM. You can also request claim forms from the Claims Administrator by writing to PSN-SOE Settlement, PO Box 1947, Faribault, MN 55021 or by calling 1-877-552-1284. The earliest deadline to file a claim is August 31, 2015, or 60 days after the settlement becomes final and effective. Visit the website for more details on submitting a claim online or by mail.
Your other options. Even if you do nothing, you will be bound by the Court's decisions. If you want to keep your right to sue the Sony Entities yourself, you must exclude yourself from the Settlement Class by April 10, 2015. If you stay in the Settlement Class, you may object to the settlement by April 10, 2015. For instructions on how to exclude yourself from the Class or object to the settlement, please seeWWW.PSNSOESETTLEMENT.COM.
Kotaku staff have logged into the settlement website to get some awareness of what it'll ask users for:
If you were an SOE user, you get a different benefit, with an offer of the network's Station Cash as a restitution. From the settlement site: "You can get a $4.50 deposit of "Station Cash" (450 Station Cash units) into your SOE account, usable for all SOE digital products and services for which Station Cash may be used."
It looks like you're entitled to more free stuff if you can prove that you were a paid subscriber to to Netflix or Hulu that couldn't use those services during the outage.
It seems like users who didn't pick up anything during the previous Welcome Back campaign may have the opportunity to do so now as part of this settlement, which includes first-party games like Puppeteer released since the the hack. If you're a person who doesn't own Super Stardust, God of War HD or Puppeteer yet, this is a great chance to pick up those good games at no risk.
For Sony, this settlement roll-out is hopefully the beginning of the end of a very ugly chapter in their corporate history. If you're an affected Sony services user making their way through the settlement process, let us know what you're experiencing in the comments below.