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European Union Rules it Illegal to Ban Resale of Software

On July 3, 2012 the Courts of Justice of the European Union made the decision that “an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet”. This means that in the EU it is now illegal for developers to say that used game sales are killing the industry.

This is a breathe of fresh air in the heavily publisher/developer friendly realm of video game business. I’m sure it won’t change a whole lot. Distributors will probably just move towards full on leasing their games instead of pretending to sell them. This is still a great thing to hear, regardless. For a while now, digital distribution platforms have forgotten what to sell something means. This won’t effect distributors like GoG much, but it will be interesting to see how clients like Steam and Origin change to adapt to this new legislation.

This doesn’t only affect PC gaming, however. With digital distribution making it’s way to consoles through Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and rumors that the next Microsoft console will be without a disk drive this could cause some huge changes in the business tactics of the industry. There has also been plenty of talk from developers that used game sales are killing the industry, and this will certainly cause some problems for them. Games like Resident Evil: Mercenaries may or may not be affected by this ruling, however. It is possible that because when you buy the software you buy it with full knowledge of it’s save file locks, but we will have to wait and see what the courts decide.

I’m especially interested to see the responses that will be made by the various companies, whether they will try to ignore it and hope that no one notices, go into damage control and try to reconcile the situation with some kind of spin, or fight back in court. What ever happens, it’s good to see a step in the favor of the consumer for once. For far too long the publishers and distributors have been the ones gathering the favorable outcomes in this fight.

For further information this is the link to the EU press release on the decision: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2012-07/cp120094en.pdf

 4 thoughts on “European Union Rules it Illegal to Ban Resale of Software
  1. Anonymous on said:

    Hi,
    according to this article http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/EuGH-Klares-Ja-zum-Weiterverkauf-gebrauchter-Software-1631306.html
    (heise.de is a respectable German tech news source)
    this won’t change anything for digital distributors where it’s technically impossible to resell used games. Such services are under no obligations to provide such functionality.

    This means this ruling changes nothing for services like Apple’s App store, Origin, or Steam.

    • Marcus Puckett on said:

      Interesting. I wish I spoke German so that I could see exactly what was said, but won’t this make it possible to sell Steam accounts and MMO profiles at the very least?

      • loafer on said:

        Yes you are right, it says that you can sell any used software as long as you are able to (like with steam accounts), it just doesn’t force companies to make it possible to resell anything.

  2. Miikk on said:

    Be prepared for more developers to follow the EA route. If you don’t buy a brand new copy of the game they force you to pay $15 for a pass code so you can access all the features. Fuckin’ micro transactions, how do they work.

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