In what is a mammoth blow to the distributors and publishers dreams of no more used games in the next generation the EU Court of Justice has just ruled that any licence sold on an indefinite basis, not rented, really means that a transfer of ownership rights has occurred.
In simple terms, when you download that Steam, XBLA, PSN or Origin game it really doesn’t matter what the terms and conditions state as now if you live in the EU that game fully belongs to you and you have the right to resell it as and when you please.
This shocking announcement was made during a software ruling between Oracle and UsedSoft who were in a running court battle over UsedSoft reselling Oracle licences however the ruling hasn’t been limited to PC or work software and therefore now covers digital videogames as well.
I’m expecting Oracle to appeal the case but I’m not expecting them to win and I wonder how long it will be before a gamer in the EU takes one of the big boys to court over this.
In another part of the ruling the following was stated
The Court observes in particular that limiting the application of the principle of the exhaustion of the distribution right solely to copies of computer programs that are sold on a material medium would allow the copyright holder to control the resale of copies downloaded from the internet and to demand further remuneration on the occasion of each new sale, even though the first sale of the copy had already enabled the rightholder to obtain appropriate remuneration. Such a restriction of the resale of copies of computer programs downloaded from the internet would go beyond what is necessary to safeguard the specific subject-matter of the intellectual property concerned.
Which is plain English simply means the original copyright holder has no claim to any further remuneration from future sales and can’t limit future sales… I wonder how the online passes are going to hold up against that restriction?
All in all this is fantastic news for consumers and once the appeals dry up will hopefully stop the publishers from attacking the used game market once and for all.
Last Updated: July 4, 2012