Secondhand sale of software protected, rules European court

EU's Court of Justice finds content creators can't prohibit post-purchase redistribution of work, no matter what end-user license agreement says.

by

Have a kilometer-long Steam games list and a paper-thin wallet? If you're a European citizen, you may soon be in luck, as software producers can no longer prevent users from reselling software licenses, according to a Court of Justice of the European Union ruling.

Will EU citizens be allowed to turn unwanted Steam games into euros?

The case between hardware and software producer Oracle and German company UsedSoft, which made a business of buying and reselling software licenses from consumers, was decided in favor of UsedSoft. The court's judgment stated that a software author's exclusive license to distribute a given copy of its product is exhausted with its initial distribution, allowing the owner to then distribute said copy.

The judgment applies both to future end-user license agreements and preexisting ones. Therefore, even if the license agreement prohibits further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.

The EU Court of Justice is the union's highest court. Its ruling stipulated that the piece of software must be made inoperable for the reseller and that it does not affect the author's exclusive right to duplicate the software for anything other than its intended purpose. This ruling applies to both physical and fully digital purchases made in EU member states.

The impact of the judgment on digital distribution services such as Good Old Games, which is based in the EU, is not yet known. GOG's marketing manager Michał Dys said the full text of the ruling needs to be analyzed by experts before any decisions can be made. "We are aware that the consequences can be game-changing and we're definitely looking carefully into this situation," Dys said.

Microsoft deferred comment to a Business Software Association statement, which stated the ruling disrupts "longstanding consensus that licenses for programs downloaded over the Internet are not transferable." The BSA believes the judgment will affect only a narrow subset of permanent licenses.

[CORRECTION] This article originally stated that the German Federal Court of Justice issued the ruling. It was actually the Court of Justice of the European Union. GameSpot regrets the error.

Discussion

0 comments
theKSMM
theKSMM

I really hope this right to resell software licences is upheld here in the U.S. too.  It's almost inconceivable that I cannot sell my fully loaded computer or give it to my niece without running afoul of somebody's EULA.

maxwell97
maxwell97

Wow, where do they get these idiots? I guess it might make sense for enterprise software, where you gain benefit from keeping the license, but if applied to games, which often are played only for a short time before the value is exhausted for the original purchaser, it could be a disaster. So, now you can buy a game, finish it, then sell it on to another, who can do the same, again and again - with the investors in the game never getting a dime from those secondary sales. So who would be dumb enough to invest in such a game? The workaround would be subscription services only, no actual license sales - yay.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I can't believe I missed this news too. It may be the biggest legal ruling on software ownership in a decade.

a140lbstud
a140lbstud

In 2010 I bought a Brand New Dodge Ram. Dodge sure as hell can't stop me from selling it if I wanted to. Why the hell do these video game corporations come up with the idea that you can't sell what belongs to you.

DJCartmell
DJCartmell

I hate the fact these companies are trying to force us to pay far more money for they're games by trying to kill off the second hand games market. I understand they are businesses that need to make money but at the end of the day I believe it's wrong and unfair doing this.

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

At the end of the day used games have been around for years and the industry is going stronger than ever so that proves that used games is not a problem. the companies against them are just greedy and don't want them around so that they can charge what they want for a new copy.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

THATS RIGHT...

 

Yet another thing we need to adopt from other countries.

Like.. the METRIC system for instance. God we American's are lazy, too lazy to learn a proper measurment system.

redness19
redness19

Sounds good for the consumers. I am sure someone from a digital download company will explain how this is the death of gaming and the industry but as far as I am concerned, good stuff.

nomadski69
nomadski69

Finally, some legal precedent to prove that EULA's are complete BS.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

This could be an opportunity for publishers who go digital-only to get in on used sales by charging $5-10 for a license transfer fee. Which means that the used sales market is working for them as opposed to GameStop, which could actually stop their war on the second-hand market.

 

If approached correctly, this could be the beginning of a brilliant thing!

TohouAsura
TohouAsura

This is why Europe is a strong front in the consumer business.

 

America is a corporate country, it will never do this and go against the corporations head on, they fuel it.

 

Same goes for Japan.

 

Thank god we still have SOMEONE out there who gives a s**t!

 

I mean, for years now, PC gamers suffered from from the fact that once they buy a game, it's done for, you can't re-sell a PC game. Now it's possible!

 

Don't you guys see it? If Steam incorporates this auction-house like feature, which they'll have to, and EA aswell, then it might be we are at the start of a gaming revolution!

 

PC gaming's greatest flaws has now been fixed! PC gaming is really on the rise! The consoles will have to follow! OH HAPPY DAY!

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

I wonder how much I could get for my XBLA copy of Double Dragon? Hmmm.

steelmouth
steelmouth

EU is such a pain for companies, no wonder the whole EU economy is such a mess

Falzonn
Falzonn

I am curious as to how publishers will try to circumvent this ruling via stranger and more abusive business tactics, or some loophole in the ruling.

The_Mighty_KELP
The_Mighty_KELP

Huh, sounds interesting. I can't decide if this is a good idea or not.

xerxes5678
xerxes5678

Good job Europe! Hopefully the United States follows suit, and expands the ruling to include hardware (i.e. next gen consoles).

 

It's well known that we have a right as consumers to resell our property if we choose to, now we have a major legal precedent to back it up.

brosim1104
brosim1104

Europe gave the finger to ACTA today also!!

Uesugi-dono
Uesugi-dono

Now if only the US courts would tackle this issue... oh wait.. US courts can be bought...

Vickman178
Vickman178

This is good news, Even if only europe has the laws it will make it harder for them to do this globally since its now illegal in such a huge region.

 

Does this also effect multiplayer passes and single player passes however? Hopefully it does those things are just as evil!

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

I think this is brilliant, and benefits everyone.  Not everyone can afford everything at full price.  I'm still waiting for a deal on StarCraft after 2 years!  This lets consumers who would never buy a product new get in on it without resorting to piracy, and as more people become fans, they may save up an invest in the next new release, bringing more buyers to the developer.  Not to mention more DLC sales and more micro transactions for devs.  Steam could even provide a new and used marketplace, and take small % of each transaction...as other new/used game sellers already do online.  Xbox Live and PSN could offer similar services.

Hatemachine25
Hatemachine25

I don't know if I like this one, seems kinda like punching Steam and Valve in the mouth, granted I myself would LOVE to unload some of the more craptacular titles I purchased (Front Mission DEevolved), but I also appreciate the Steam Service, the end of year sales, and sales events they put on are simply astounding, and I don't really HAVE the ability to be hanging around game stores in the middle of the night to get that midnight release anymore, haven't been able too since Halo 2, stupid working to pay bills and accepting of societal obligations, now this will create a whole new batch of problems for the folks at Steam, and between the Mouth Foamed fans of Half life wondering why Valve is working on anything BUT the next installment of their favored Franchise, to keeping the service up and running during those monster title release sessions, it heaps more work on them to have to sort out who sold what to who, who's getting gyped, and so on, Steam Sold the title, it's still their responsibility to maintain the User account, but if you haul off and sell your account? theres no hotline to call, no help service if you get ripped off, and all of this is just gonna be another headache they tried to avoid in the beginning with the service.

KabutoHunter
KabutoHunter

Need to get the Katamari rolling on this in the US, now. The unbridled greed of game publishers today is what will lead to a second Great Video Game Crash. I'm already mulling over plans to go completely old-school, depending on how ridiculous the next generation gets. Single-user licenses, always-online DRM, nickel-and-dime DLC schemes, needing to sign up for accounts with every damn publisher just to play my damn offline single-player games; I'm getting utterly sick of what the hobby has become. Not to mention the tremendous lack of originality these days, and every high-budget, polished production being bogged down in a mire of repugnant filthy content, as though you can't have a mature experience without avalanches of profanity, gruesome violence and sex splayed all over the screen.

 

The gaming of today is not the gaming I grew up with. We need changes, badly.

sauron210
sauron210

In-Steam license trading for money would be interesting. But not very profitable for Valve. I wonder what countermeasures they will take.

Valen_Ca
Valen_Ca

To bad this will never happen in North America, both the Canadian and American governments have shown nothing but contempt for consumer rights and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

GryphonICD
GryphonICD

I've heard both sides of the argument, both from Devs and from Consumers and although I sympathise and can see the cons from the company's points of view, it does pee me off that we're seeing a rise in games that we don't own anymore and instead merely buy the right to play it as long as companies see fit. Blizzard is a large culprit of this after the release of Diablo III. I have a lot of gams on my shelf, and when I no longer wish to have them, what am I supposed to do other than throw them out creating more trash for the world? I think this is an important decision in favour of purchase rights and although it may prove detrimental, I dislike the fact that what I own has become diminished.

ender707
ender707

"Its ruling stipulated that the piece of software must be made inoperable for the reseller"

 

I don't get it.  Maybe by deleting a file?

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

Nice. Good change, too many EA articles lately, my faith in gaming was looow.

BlackaliciousX
BlackaliciousX

 @maxwell97 I feel the same way about books and physical physical copies of video games... Ohh wait people have been doing that for years, yet the industry is still surviving. Must be magics!

so_hai
so_hai

 @x-2tha-z

 As long as it's in good condition and you still have the manual...

SolanOcard
SolanOcard

 @steelmouth thank god the EU has the guts to make sensible decisions. Too bad that doesn't happen in North America (as often as it should).

 

But don't think that means the US has never annoyed a company. At one point, they were fining Microsoft over 1m a day because they were in violation of Sherman Anti-trust laws. It was a slap on the wrist though, as Microsoft would have lost more money by complying than they were to the fine. Jail time needs to be put in the equation, I think.

 

And hopefully this means they will not be able to discourage second hand game sales, as is rumoured for the PS4

KabutoHunter
KabutoHunter

 @steelmouth Yes, it's a real pain to be protecting consumer rights. So much easier to let mega-corporations steamroll over their customers and suck them dry through abusive practices.

daniel79
daniel79

 @The_Mighty_KELP Just keep buying overpriced digital downloadable games then and have a think about it more..

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

 @Hatemachine25

 I don't see how this is bad for Steam.  Steam could benefit from facilitating new & used sales, as other vendors already do with physical copies.  You can buy new and used on Gamespot!  They take a transaction fee on every sale.  Everyone benefits.

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

 @Hatemachine25 you raised a good point there about the once humble excitement of appearing on the doorstep of your local retailer to grab a launch title at zero hour, It makes you wonder if the move to digital distribution will have a negative effect on this excitement or will it lead to more hunger for games now that they are there on tap? 

 

Will the games of tomorrow be slow to trickle out to the world as the psn networks of this world struggle under the immense pressure that mass downloading produces, once triple A titles are released as digital only content?

 

Will the internet collapse under such a strain?

sauron210
sauron210

 @KabutoHunter I agree with you on the first part. Problem simply is that, with the rise of warez and torrent sites, illegal distribution of software (software in which a lot of labour has been put) is more accessible and easier to use than ever. Developers need to take measures to protect their work from being digitally stolen. Most people don't realise that.

 

Although it's a bit offtopic: Lack of originality okay; I see lots of innovation nonetheless, but I don't think violence is certainly more common nowadays. It's simply more realistic, hence gruesome. I don't really know in what era of gaming you grew up, the Doom and Quake series weren't less morbid than games now and Duke Nukem not less sexistic. The difference is, I think, that the graphics and game mechanics back then were so simple and vague, the things you shot were coloured pixels and nothing close to realistic human beings. That made playing those games a lot less shocking. But you're not wrong at all. Mass Effect 3's combat system had a substantial amount of gore compared to the first two games. I don't know why the devs chose for it. It don't know what it added to the gaming experience. I don't know why people would want it. If people want excessive profanity, that's okay with me, but there is absolutely something wrong with such a mindset. There was a good article about it on Gamespot lately.

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

 @sauron210 probably something like "10% or 1£/$/euro per sale, whichever is the lesser"  Seems like quite a typical skim off the side in second hand sales type tactic. it's all profit at the end of the day given the simplicity of processing such a trade between an already established database of users and their licenses. :chinstroke:

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

 @ender707 im sure they just mean unregister/uninstall and not circumvent the license with a patch or hack in some way. given that this could be acheived if they may have had a legitimate (at the time of ownership) backup of the install media before selling.

theKSMM
theKSMM

 @so_hai GameStop demonstrated long ago that neither one of those is a requirement to sell used games.

The_Mighty_KELP
The_Mighty_KELP

 @daniel79 "Overpriced"? I buy all my games off Steam. I haven't spend over $20 for a game in years. I wait for a sale, and get games at 75%-90% off the normal price.

Hatemachine25
Hatemachine25

 @LeMeAtOm Nope, as long as the internet providers can increase bandwidth, lay more cable, setup more servers, and so forth, there will be little to no shortage, and the tech to distribute digital mediums will only improve as demand increases, no one want's to lose out on big cash.

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

 @sauron210  @KabutoHunter I agree that the level of realism in games is accentuating on an already established level of violence in video games. Will this itself have a backlash over time where the medias arguments for game violence being conducive to social decay are given weight once the games become so real that the only outlet for some is to get their fix of violence in the real realm or will it reach a plateau where we are all so in tuned with 'gaming' that the need to have any outburst in real life seems so unnecessary as you've taken it all out in a controlled environment. interesting developments or fearful futures?  I'm hoping that the dystopian norm is that the world becomes a more peaceful environment for us to live in, and not have any room left for hate or foul play because the likes of this is just seen as the stable of role play and fantasy in a virtual world and not a worthwhile pursuit to act out in life itself.

 

the real test for this wont be shown for at least a decade once all those kids who are being allowed access to adult rated games by their forward thinking parents, become the adult of this world and the leaders of tomorrow.

sauron210
sauron210

 @LeMeAtOm Good argument. I'm actually fairly content with Steam as it is now, but the weekend deals will have to deal with a lot of competition once you can sell your own games to other users. If there can't be prohibitions on selling second-hand software licenses, I can't imagine prohibitions or limitations on second-hand sales prices or second-hand customers for that matter then. I can imagine people buying games during Steam sale weeks or so, and selling them for a little more once those are over. There are always people who missed out on those ones.

so_hai
so_hai

 @theKSMM

 Can't tell if you're jokin, but I was trying to be ironic.

KabutoHunter
KabutoHunter

 @LeMeAtOm It's not even the "free the bunnies" stuff that I'm talking about. The graphic depictions of violence and obscenities and the over-focus on it have simply gone far past the limit of any kind of good taste or sensibleness. I'm not saying to take away the action games, but do we really need to see half the screen covered in blood and brains flying everywhere? For my money, the definition of a class-act game maker is Hideo Kojima. He knows when a good time is to do immature jokes, without diving into being disgustingly crude, and he knows where to draw the lines with violence. Most of his games are about war, but always in good taste. We don't need to see the muscle and sinew oozing out of a soldier's wound to get the message, we don't need constant profanity, and we don't need this tremendous bloodlust that seems to have taken over all the biggest games lately. He knows that, but his Western counterparts don't seem to have the maturity to understand it. Have the action games, but also have at least some small sense of restraint.

 

sauron210 mentioned how the gore level went up between Mass Effect 2 & 3, and I completely agree with them that it adds nothing. The game would have sold just as well without it, yet the developers chose to bloody it up regardless. What purpose did it serve?

 

I'm glad that at least some game makers are seeing this, with Warren Spector's recent comments about how it's become "beyond bad." We need more people with some sense like this to be running things.

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

 @KabutoHunter The true impetus for violence in video games is supply and demand, daily boardroom meetings depicting sales trends and statistical analysis with an aim to increase production where they see the biggest market is. The old adage that sex sells is a testiment to this, along with the popularity of action films and toys with guns. we are a species of animals at our core and they tap into our primeval excitement for their own gain, they are a business ultimately. I like the free the bunnies, jump on a mushroom, colours and rainbows beauty of a fantasy realm as much as anyone else, it's relaxing, pleasing to the eye and fun, but this market is perhaps marginally larger in an age group that doesn't dictate any sales figures, because they are most likely not old enough to earn the amount required to buy the titles.

 

DRM and digital sales in general will have an adverse effect on these trends over time and a balance will form, given that a quality game on say IOS or android is much cheaper and the uptake on younger people adopting smartphones they are the new handhelds of now, and the trends of what sells are already beginning to show on these platforms, much more puzzle games and platformers, and cutesy if slightly angry feathered friends.

 

I agree that there is little that can be done to create a piracy free environment, but the move to downloadable content will hopefully make more titles cheaper to access and develop and distribute meaning that some companies will pass these savings on to us. although obviously not all, but who will lose out in that battle, the greedy or the generous.

KabutoHunter
KabutoHunter

 @LeMeAtOm I don't so much see violent and offensive games as being the cause for social decay, but more as social decay being the impetus for violent and offensive games. Inevitably when that subject is brought up, someone will chime in with, "It doesn't bother me, because I can handle it." The real question is whether it SHOULD be handled--and far overly handled--at all. You could set up an amusement park in a sewage treatment plant, because people can handle it, but why would you want to handle filth in the first place? And why set up an amusement park there, when there's a perfectly pleasant meadow across the street?

 

I simply don't see how this industry can ever hope to be taken seriously when the highest-profile developers keep on pushing the very worst elements, in the very poorest taste, to center stage and insisting that it's the best thing that there ever has been or could hope to be. Why do we need the exploding heads? The hyper-detailed decapitations? Slow-motion stabbings? The game dialog that has more f-bombs than any other word (side-note: I was extremely disappointed in Naughty Dog for taking this route with Last of Us)? Nudity and sex, only for the sake of nudity and sex? All of this is extremely immature, and dragging the industry backwards.

 

That, combined with (back on topic) all this DRM nonsense, is driving me away in revulsion, and I doubt I'm the only one. Companies do need to protect their products, but it has reached the point of ridiculousness. Pirates will always pirate, and there is no account system, product key, connection requirement, or any other kind of protection that won't be cracked. The only way to combat piracy is to offer a more compelling, more pleasant, more user-friendly experience than what the illegal route offers. Right now, publishers are not doing that.

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

 @sauron210 i guess that is a risk, perhaps they can process that a license is required to be in ownership for a certian amount of time before it can be resold?  or something similar. There will likely always be those looking to make a quick buck from a buyer and sellers market i suppose.