European Court of Justice Ruling: Digital Games Can Be Resold

The European Court of Justice has made a ruling that could cause lots of problems for publishers in Europe. The highest court in Europe has ruled that game publishers cannot stop European consumers from reselling their downloaded games.

"An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his 'used' licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet," the ruling read. The Court said the exclusive right of distribution covered by a license is "exhausted on its first sale".

This certainly puts a fly in the ointment for companies like Steam. Now gamers in European Union member states are basically free to sell their downloaded games no matter where they are from: Steam, Origin or another digital platform – no matter what End User License Agreement has been signed.

The ruling goes on to say that even when the license says that a consumer cannot transfer a game, the rightsholder "can no longer oppose the resale of that copy."

The ruling also suggests that the person who buys that used game is within his or her right to download it from the publisher's website.

"Therefore the new acquirer of the user licence, such as a customer of UsedSoft, may, as a lawful acquirer of the corrected and updated copy of the computer program concerned, download that copy from the copyright holder's website," the Court said.

The only condition that the court put on reselling your digital games is that you no longer have access to it. Those that do continue to use it are infringing copyright:

"If he continued to use it," the Court explained, "he would infringe the copyright holder's exclusive right of reproduction of his computer program. In contrast to the exclusive right of distribution, the exclusive right of reproduction is not exhausted by the first sale."

You can read the entire ruling here (PDF). We will have to wait and see if companies such as GamersGate, Steam, and Origin will alter the way they do business to accommodate the ruling. Chances are they will not change a thing…

Source: Eurogamer

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  1. 0
    Craig R. says:

    I don't think this is really an issue for the likes of Valve, who already do checks before the game runs. And they can easily set up the ability to sell a game to somebody else; they simply prefer not to so that there are no 'used' sales.

    But I wonder how an outfit like GOG would handle this, since they use no DRM.

  2. 0
    Mrxknown_JG says:

    Treat people like criminals they'll act like criminals. Treat people with respect and they will act in kind.

    The problem with that is while you may treat people with respect others might not have and thus they are prone to acts that are criminal. Which leans companies to further treat us as criminals.

  3. 0
    Prof_Sarcastic says:

    Just because they have to do something doesn't mean they will do it, sadly.  I don't expect anything at all to change unless there are lawsuits or mainstream press get involved.

  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    We will have to wait and see if companies such as GamersGate, Steam, and Origin will alter the way they do business to accommodate the ruling. Chances are they will not change a thing…

    They will have to change something. If they continue to operate as they do now, they can open themselves up to liability. For instance, if Valve catches you trying to sell your account of games, they will ban the account and block your access to the games. If they do that to a European, they are opening themselves up for a lawsuit. 

    I would like to know if this will change the way business is done in the US. Will they try to region control such transferability or just go worldwide with it.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  5. 0
    Lisa Pham says:

    In many ways this is no different to how it used to be when you could trade and/or buy used retail (physical) copies of games and any other PC software. This only stopped when the publishers attached the need to have an account for a game/program and told we couldn't transfer the license.

    All this is doing is bringing order back to how it used to be and I commend that judge for seeing through all this mess and making the right decision.

    You will ALWAYS have dishonest people and nothing will change that, but with the way the gaming industry is now treating their consumers (us gamers) they are creating even more dishonest people by pushing so hard with the DRM's and anti-piracy methods (which of course don't stop anything) of needing an account, online activations and even so far as slowly moving to always online for games that honestly don't need to be (like single player games or single player mode of a game).


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