Regardless of the license agreement signed by the end user, the purchaser of software has the right to sell it on, an EU court as ruled. While this declaration was made with regards to software in general, by their very nature games are applicable.
The ruling was made by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which stated: “An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet.” The full ruling extrapolates on this point, by saying that the “exclusive right of distribution of a copy,” is exhausted at the point of first sale. However, the one caveat is that the right of duplication is maintained by the original creator – so if you sell a second hand game to a friend, you can’t copy it before hand or leave the original installed on your machine.
This court result brings into question many of the practices used by companies to hinder used game sales. Of course none of those creating always-on DRM and online passes were involved in attempting to make the sale of used games illegal, but by cutting into a verifiable legal business model, surely these measures are anti-competitive?
Another interesting revelation of this ruling is that it specifically legitimises the re-distribution of software via websites by purchasers. Essentially, it should be perfectly legal for those that have bought games on Steam, to be able to resell them to others.
Kitguru Says: While this might seem like a great thing for consumers and a bad one for developers/pulishers, companies like Valve could really benefit here. All it needs to do is ‘offer’ to let gamers use its platform for the re-sale, in exchange for a small fee. Then not only could gamers potentially trade in old downloads, but Valve could make some cash too.