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.

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.

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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.

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

Great news. Let's hope the case on second hand sales being heard by the US Supreme Court also goes this way, although it probably won't be as wide reaching.

tightwad34
tightwad34

So we are one step further being able to do what we want with what is ours?  Man I really like it when someone tells me what I can do with my own stuff. Oh wait,people  do that all the time. Hell, they even tell me what I like or don't like and then what to do with it after I obtain it.

hasancakir
hasancakir

Singleplayer games can be easily reselled if the user wants to. (multiplayer requires servers so i think an additional fee is acceptable) Maybe steam can use this fact for its advantage and probably for the users as well.

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

good luck with the same results in the states......

xcollector
xcollector

Honestly, I think there is way too much corruption and greed for this to happen in the States. 

Zero5000X
Zero5000X

It doesn't say they have to provide an avenue for reselling the software.

Vodoo
Vodoo

Good news, but it also says that the software author must disable the software so it can't be resold if they wanna stop resellers. One time use type of thing.

DrKill09
DrKill09

This is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully the US follows suit.

 

Rulings like this may very well save console gaming.

mnoi
mnoi

come on us, we need this too if you don't want higher levels of piracy and rediculous prices for some software.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

Hopefully the US courts will follow a similar ruling, only then will companies like Steam and Origin actually let users sell back their old games back to the pool. It makes no sense that we can hold an indefinite license.

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

What is everyone talking about I love DD especially when I put my face between them & make a motor boat sounds.....

 

 

 

 

Good times good times

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

Oh u will regret ur mistake Gamespot u will

slayer1090
slayer1090

Luckily I stay away from DD games, for me it's hard copy or no copy

dannyaq
dannyaq

it means nothing in terms of something like steam.  The only way to sell your licenses would be to sell your entire steam account.  it would be all or nothing. 

msfan1289
msfan1289

YES a court that is not filled with stupid morons, but with people who actually have a brain, now its time to bring this to the US, and get rid of all the steam games i dont want. hell i be happy if i get $10 for all the cheap games i bought off steam.

Zloth2
Zloth2

Great guns, this is huge!  Look for many games to force in online models ASAP.

Shinobi120
Shinobi120

LMAO. This just only proves that a DD-only model is pointless as a whole & that publishers/developers were wrong when they thought that a digital only copy would be exempt from reselling. 

nurnberg
nurnberg

For once, a judge didn't bend over in front of corporate wannabe world rulers.  These greedy corporate people need to be reminded that they don't make the laws.  Good!

csward
csward

So we could actually see PC game rentals in the US sometime if there is a similar ruling? I've waited since I was a kid for that.

 

Ah, finally some common sense in the courts after our own Supreme Court's silliness this week.

 

Take that Sony, M$, Nintendo, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, ect.

 

So, I have to ask, if this were ruled in America, does that mean EA can't have its "online passes" or sell separate multiplayer keys. That would be an amazing and appropriate middle finger to EA that we've all wanted to give to them at some point(s). 

okassar
okassar

This ruling is useless if you don't have the means of redistributing the software you purchased. As far as I know, that's the case with Steam-bought games. The German court's decision will come to good use if the "no used games" rumors about next-gen systems are true.