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You can’t resell Valve games in Germany – court

A German court has dismissed a ‘reselling’ case in favour of Valve Software, the maker of Steam OS. German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv) had filed a complaint against Valve as Valve’s EULA (End User Licence Agreement) prohibits users from re-selling their games.

It’s bad new for users who lose the right to re-sell their digital content. What it means in layman’s terms, if the court’s decision is applied in the physical world, is that you are not allowed to re-sell your old car, couch or anything at all.

In July 2012 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that users have the right to re-sell downloaded content and a publisher can’t stop that via EULA. US companies are extremely aggressive over ‘ownership’ of content and taking away control from users. That case was one of the reasons why vzbv filed second complaint against Valve as the UsedSoft vs Oracle case concluded that the copyright owners exhaust their exclusive right after first sale which allows users to resell the digital content.

This ruling was the basis of vzbv complaint, but it seems the German Regional court believe that the CJEU ruling doesn’t apply to digitally ‘distributed’ games. For now it seems that digitally distributed games in Germany are not covered by ‘exhaustion’.

While companies do try to protect their works from ‘illegal’ downloads, or illegale re-selling, they should give customer total ownership of works they paid for. Looking at the extremely community friendly stand of Valve Software, we may expect Valve to give more power to users.

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Patha Das contributed to this story

Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

6 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t take that broad reading. When you buy software, your actually buying a license to use it, not the software itself. In otherwords, a contract. What this is doing is the court basically saying “Hey if valve dont want to sell your stake in this agreement, you cant force valve to do that”. Thats very different to a car, which you literally own and can do with whatever you wish.

    It still sucks, but I can see how the court is thinking.

    • @shayneo:disqus I don’t know why is that I can own an mp3 that I buy for mere $2 but can’t ‘own’ a piece of software that I bought for $600. It’s just the the companies want to benefit from digitization, but don’t want to pass the same benefits to users.

      • You don’t own the MP3. You have a license to play the MP3. If you owned it you could do anything you wanted with it, including copying it to friends. But you can’t.

  2. Let me translate: Swapnil doesn’t like america or proprietary software. To push his political points of view, he uses un-nuanced baby language like “total ownership of works they paid for” in the hope of convincing either the choir or the interminably naive to his cause. Meanwhile, in the real world, outlets like Steam have allowed a PC gaming industry, once moribund largely due to piracy, to both rise from the ashes and provide lower cost games to the end users than ever before. A win-win for all involved except for OSS zealots.

    • I don’t like proprietary software that’s fact and there is a reason. I don’t like America is bogus. As far as Steam/Valve is concerned I am a huge supporter and I stated clearly – “As I stated above, looking at the extremely community friendly stand of
      Valve Software, we may expect Valve to give more power to users.” And the fact remains some American industries are scared of it’s incompetency that’s why it is pushing its copyright and patent agenda across the world. If India China had similar patent/copyright system America won’t be where it is today. So, let’s stop this non-sense and build ‘together’.

  3. @shayneo:disqus i believe what the previous european court ruling found is that a licence to use the software indefinitely and in perpetuity actually constitutes ownership of that licence and thus the first sale doctrine applies in terms of resale of that licence the european court did not imply in its ruling that the method of distribution altered this fact. It may require a european court ruling to properly clear this up.

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