By now you've likely heard about The Virgin Queen's imbroglio with Microsoft, and their hair-brained lack of empathy. It's made it to the front page of Destructoid, and if you're not heartless and she's not deceptive in her description of the circumstances, then you'll likely feel a sense of injustice because of that and those. And likely some compassion for her in her circumstance.
I don't know every detail of what's going on here, but from my perspective, I see Microsoft's Xbox Live/GFWL EULA in the gruesome face it can have. (I'm visualizing a kabuki mask at the moment, those horrifying war faces, anyway...) You may recall the revisions they made to the EULA not long ago, I seem to recall them occurring back in either later November or early December. I remember agreeing to them without reading them (like the vast majority of us do I'm sure) while playing Arkham CIty on PC, which requires GFWL. This situation is particularly irksome for me, because of the infrequency with which I use and the relative uselessness of GFWL. I bought the game on Steam, One of the reasons I shop on steam is because their DRM is considerate and reasonable, the addition of Securom and GFWL makes a mess of an elegant solution. No less, had GFWL been left out, I would not have agreed to this EULA which I think makes a mockery of our legal system.
The eighteenth article of the current version of the Xbox Live/GFWL EULA does the following: It diminishes/removes your opportunity to seek relief in the courts if you've suffered damages because of Microsoft's policies with regards to Xbox Live/GFWL. The Virgin Queen's circumstance is precisely why we need to be able to seek relief in the courts. Her circumstance, to the best of my knowledge, is one that puts her between Scylla and Charybdis. With a child to take care of, and what sounds like modest means, this situation is a potential disaster for her.
Microsoft's agreement, if you go read it (URL at the end of the blog post) does allow for binding arbitration out of court. Which is to say, you can hire a lawyer, or speak on your own behalf to them or their lawyers, and have an agreement come out of it such that you may be recompensed in some fashion, but none that would be potentially damaging because of the bad publicity, because their EULA would have kept it out of court. Also, none that would allow for admonishment by the court. Keeping themselves from looking guilty keeps their facade seemingly clean, so that when you think about brands and what to buy from whom, you always see them in a good light.
This is deceptive. But corporations fundamentally are. You see, corporations aren't individuals, they cannot "see" people as human beings because they are not human being. They do not undertake meeting them one on one and allowing the person in question to be humanized to them such that they understand their circumstances in a compelling way. Why? because if you tell one person something, via twitter, IM, email whatever, you've still not seen their face, heard their tone of voice, digested their humanity with a human set of senses that can do something in a sincere way. Why? Because they're a lot of people. Because a corporation is necessarily bureaucratic, because corporations don't function on humanity, they function on simplistic ideas of capitalism as an ideal, and that they're machinations within that rationalization will always be defended here in the U.S.
I'm drifting from the topic, but I thought parts of that were worth saying. While in this circumstance, she may be able to see relief from the difficulty caused by Microsoft's nascence, despite the EULA, but they may take forever, they may not pay any real attention, since the court cannot compel them to act, they may not at all, or maybe only later. This is the human impact of those sorts of irresponsible and greedy legal amends to agreements we have with those corporations with whom we have to deal. Xbox Live may not be a necessity, but we do need to have reasonable agreements that are assailable.
I want to write a lot more, but I'm not in a position to write out every participle of this argument with real world time constraints and my rusty writing habits. No less I want to keep this from being a TLDR cBlog.
I hope you do not consider this opportunistic, this is not an effort to steal The Virgin Queen's thunder, nor is it an effort to forward an agenda. I have strong feelings about this, if you've read my previous blog posts you may find that comment believable, and I hope you do.
Xbox Live/GFWL EULA
articles 18.1.4 and onward through eighteen are the articles to read.
The Virgin Queen's original blog post
Destructoid article on this