In a huge court ruling that that may have a lasting impact on the gaming industry, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that digitally distributed games can be re-sold. Basically the court ruled that once a person has bought the rights to a game digitally or otherwise, the company is dissolved of any claim to the product.
Here is part of the ruling:
“An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet,” “… 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.”
“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 license 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.”
This ruling does stipulate that if a person does resell his or her digital copy of a game, that “seller’s digital version would have to be rendered unusable.”
As for what this ruling means in the long term it is unknown, because digital download services like Origin and Steam don’t offer a way for people to transfer digital content to other people. Will digital distribution services be forced to change their way of doing business in Europe to provide a way to resell digital games? And how would this ruling apply to games that are based on cloud service gaming, will companies like OnLive now have to produce a way to transfer digital games to other people as well?
Right now there are still many questions and at this point the ruling is only for Europe so digital downloadable games can’t be resold in North America or any other country outside of Europe. However, this is still a victory for consumers and blow to many publishers who want to go to all digital sales to run away from used games sales (EA *cough *cough).