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Publishers cannot oppose resale of digital products, says EU court

In a move that may have implications for digital games in Europe, a new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union states that the licence agreement for a digital product can be resold between customers.
In a move that may have significant implications for digital video games in Europe, a new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union states that the licence agreement for a digital product can be resold between customers. At the moment, if a user purchases a video game through a digital distribution channel like Steam or Xbox Live Arcade, the customer is prohibited from reselling the licence agreement to other customers. However, this new ruling of Oracle vs UsedSoft [PDF] could change all that in Europe. UsedSoft acquires Oracle licences and resells them -- a point that Oracle is not happy about. Oracle brought proceedings against UsedSoft, asking that these practices be halted. Now the European Union court has given its judgement, stating that UsedSoft is free to redistribute Oracle licences, as long as the original licence holder no longer continues to use the key. "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," explains the release. "Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy." Restricting resales of digital products would "go beyond what is necessary to safeguard the specific subject-matter of the intellectual property concerned," it added.

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