The EU Court of Justice has upheld the right of companies to sell used licenses for downloadable software.
The decision came as a blow to Luxembourg-based corporation Oracle, who sought to stop German retailer UsedSoft from selling their used software in the case that forced the judgment to be made.
The Court’s decision essentially means that purchasers of downloadable software will continue to be legally able to put their product’s license up for sale, so long as they cease using their own copy upon selling it. Once a software company sells a downloadable copy of their product, the Court said, their “exclusive right of distribution” is effectively eliminated, leaving any user who wishes to sell the copy free to do so upon deletion of their own version.
Game updates and patches were also ruled to be part of a product’s sellable “original copy,” according to the decision.
The decision comes as a stark contrast from the United States’ current ruling on the subject. Whereas physical copies of DVDs, CDs, and other forms of physical media are legally able to be sold or put up for rent here in the States, third parties are still unable to sell “used” copies of software, as software companies are protected by their claim that they are selling a “license” to their product, rather than a standalone product itself. The EU’s ruling today would deny that claim.
The decision will undoubtedly have an impact on the used game debate currently raging across the industry. Although game companies haven’t necessarily gone so far as Oracle has in this particular case, it’s no secret that most have been opposed to helping retailers sell used copies of their products.
By Jeff Dunn