European Court Rules People Can Resell their Downloaded Games
The Court of Justice of the European Union rules in favor of people being able to resell their downloaded games.
Quick, when's the last time you tried reselling a digital game? Aside from letting someone access your account to redownload it, it's virtually not something a lot of people attempt to do...and not to mention, considered illegal.
That could change in the future -- at least in European territories, that is -- as The Court of Justice of the European Union has just ruled in favor of people being able to resell their downloaded game purchases.
This is a direct contrast to what videogame publishers and platform holders are vying to do. In the current gaming climate. While physical game are becoming more and more of a hardsell when it comes to reselling due to Online Passes, Season Passes and the sort, it's doubly hard -- if not downrifht impossible -- when it comes to digital games.
The ruling states that buyers will have actual ownership of their digital games and they can resell it if they see fit. Here's the preliminary ruling statement.
The first sale in the EU of a copy of a computer program by the copyright holder or with his consent exhausts the right of distribution of that copy in the EU. A rightholder who has marketed a copy in the territory of a Member State of the EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy… The principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website.
This ruling was brought on when German company UsedSoft was taken to court by software firm Oracle for reselling its products. In addition to this, the ruling states for the very first time that an owner can claim ownership on a digitally distributed game.
The specific rule seems to indicate that if a license is sold indefinitely (ie: not a license for an X amount of time, etc.), then the rightholder will "exhaust his exclusive distribution right."
Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy.
While this sounds fantastic for the gamers, what's stopping people from buying a digital game and then reselling it? According to the ruling, it states that if someone does decide to resell their digital copy of a product, they must remove their version of said product from their computer. It's at this point that it indeed becomes a copyright violation as it's a reproduction of the product itself. But it also states, "However, the directive authorises any reproduction that is necessary for the use of the computer program by the lawful acquirer in accordance with its intended purpose. Such reproduction may not be prohibited by contract."
So does this mean what publishers are using for DRM and its ilk will be going away? While we really can't answer that now, I'm very curious to see how EA, Valve and the other digital platform holders will react to this. Yep, those companies will not take this sitting down as there's too much potential money to be lost if it's passed.
In saying that, expect Valve and EA to throw its weight and muscle around to make sure this bill takes its time in court.
While this is just for European territories for now, it's worth noting that this could be the start of a massive change when it comes to the digital distribution landscape -- and one, that will hold repurcussions when it comes to other territories, too.
Do you agree with the ruling or is this something that will make pirating that much easier and in turn, make studios lose money? Let us know in the comments.