In a move that scares the pants off of online software distribution such as Steam, the Court Of Justice of the European Union has just ruled that people should be able to resell downloaded games.
While this does not effect the Land of the Free, where its French-backed Junta wants its people to pay many times for software they own.
However, the ruling means that what it might say in the EULAs you are allowed to sell your old software. Steam, Origin, and GamersGate will now have their work cut out trying to work out a way to restore some rights to those who buy software online.
The ruling says that 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 EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy.
This distribution right applies not only to software on a CD-ROM or DVD but also where the items are distributed by downloads.
The ruling comes from Oracle taking UsedSoft to court for reselling licences to Oracle products.
Basically, if a licence is sold indefinitely then the software publisher "exhausts his exclusive distribution right" and has transferred the right of ownership of the software.
But it also means that companies like Valve and EA are not allowed to to block customers' access to their purchased games.
However, the ruling does make it clear that if someone does resell a digital copy of a product, they must remove their version of it from their computer. If they don't then it is a copyright violation, as it has become a reproduction.