Court of Justice of the European Union rules “an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his used licences”

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This is incredible; the Court of Justice of the European Union has just published a ruling stating that creators of software cannot oppose the re-sale of that software, even if it’s downloaded from the web. In effect, as a user, you should be allowed to sell on or trade digital copies of your games.

The ruling came out of a case spotted by Eurogamer,between UsedSoft, a German company that sells ‘used’ licenses of software, and Oracle, who seeked an order to prevent the practice.
In an uneqivicol statement, the court explains “the principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of hissoftware on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website.”
This principle is usually disallowed in EULA’s that are provided as standard with PC games. Most games are sold under the principal that the vendor sells a one-time, non-refundable and non-transferable license.
The ruling comes with a caveat: that all copies of the program must be destroyed and disabled when the re-sale or trade takes place. The Court states “that an original acquirer of a tangible or intangible copy of a computer program for which the copyright holder’s right of distribution is exhausted must make the copy downloaded onto his own computer unusable at the time of resale.”
This obviously impacts on the purchase and re-sale of Steam and Origin games, but also any developer who sells their games online.
We’ve reached out to Valve and EA for comment.

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