Discord's TOS update forbids lawsuits against it, but you can opt out

Discord recently launched its own digital storefront with a curated selection of games, access to a whole bunch more through its Nitro subscription plan, and a DRM system that didn't get off to the best possible start. It also made some changes to its terms of service that you might want to take note of, because it now contains a "binding arbitration provision and class action waiver" that prohibits users from filing lawsuits against it. 

The relevant bit, added on October 16: "Discord and you agree to resolve any dispute will be brought in an individual capacity, and not on behalf of, or as part of, any purported class, consolidated, or representative proceeding. The arbitrator cannot combine more than one person’s or entity’s claims into a single case, and cannot preside over any consolidated, class or representative proceeding (unless we agree otherwise). And, the arbitrator’s decision or award in one person’s or entity’s case can only impact the person or entity that brought the claim, not other Discord customers, and cannot be used to decide other disputes with other customers." 

And if a court determines that he waiver is "void or unenforceable for any reason," litigation must take place in federal court in San Francisco, California. 

This is a potential problem because it essentially means that you cannot sue Discord in the event that it does something lawsuit-worthy, and you cannot form up into a class action lawsuit if it does something lawsuit-worthy on a massive scale. There is an opt-out option, which you can (and probably should) take advantage of by emailing arbitration-opt-out@discord.com, but you've only got a limited amount of time to do so. 

To Discord's credit, it didn't try to bury the change in fine print: The TOS page is topped with an all-caps notice of the change, saying that it "affects your legal rights." Even so, you're not going to see it if you don't pop by that particular page, and how often to any of us do that? The reaction to the change was, quelle surprise, not universally positive, which led Discord to explain in a blog post why it added the clause to the TOS, and to commit to modifying it to protect non-US users. 

"The current legal landscape in the United States is such that class action lawsuits can be abused. This clause was added because we are now operating a game store and subscription service for profit. Like many other companies, we are now a target for entities who wish to abuse the class action lawsuit," Discord wrote. 

"Our motivation for this change is because of the legal climate in the United States. To protect our users outside the United States, we’ve decided to modify this clause so that it only affects users in the United States. If you are outside of the United States, this clause does not apply to you. This means users outside the United States do not need to opt out if they were wanting to." 

Discord will also add a universal notification of the change in the form of a blue bar at the top of the Discord client, and has extended the opt-out period from 30 days to 90. The update to the arbitration clause are expected to be in place sometime before October 20, but as of this moment have not yet been made.  

Again, that opt-out address is arbitration-opt-out@discord.com. The email must come from the address associated with your Discord account but requires nothing further than a request to opt-out; Discord encouraged users who want to opt out to do so, and promised that they "will not be penalized in any way."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.