The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that publishers cannot stop you from reselling your downloaded games – now all you need is a means of doing so.
According to the ruling: “An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet.”
The Court said the exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program is “exhausted on its first sale,” meaning that once you own it, you can do what you like with it.
The ruling continues: “Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.”
This technically means that games bought from Steam, Origin, PSN, Xbox LIVE and other digital platforms, such as iPhone, can realistically be sold on by the user.
Here’s a snippet from the new ruling:
“Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the licence prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.”
There is one condition, however. If you resell a license to a game you have to make your copy “unusable at the time of resale”. Now you will do that, won’t you?
“If he continued to use it,” the Court explained, “he would infringe the copyright holder’s exclusive right of reproduction of his computer program. In contrast to the exclusive right of distribution, the exclusive right of reproduction is not exhausted by the first sale.”