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Sale of Second Hand Digital Games is Legal, EU Court Decides

EA Games announced recently that they are making an effort to turn into a completely digital distribution company. After all, that is where the market is headed. Soon all forms of entertainment media, from music to books, will be sold digitally, and hard copies will be a thing of the past.

But part of the fun of owning hard copies of games is selling them when you’re done. One of the drawbacks to a digital copy of a game (for the customer, anyhow) is that you’re stuck with it. You can neither sell it as a used copy nor loan it to a friend thanks to the EULA and barriers that various digital retailers put in the software.

Rather, that used to be one of  the drawbacks.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CURIA) has ruled in the case UsedSoft v. Oracle that the owner of a game has the right to sell that game. The fact that it’s a digital copy is irrelevant, and game companies have no right to tell us otherwise via EULA. We bought it, we own it, we can do with it as we please. Specifically:

A rightholder who has marketed a copy in the territory of a Member State of the EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy.

It’s a victory for gamers and a blow for distributors. What does this mean to digital retailers like Steam, Origin, and GOG? Valve, EA, and others will be required to add a feature that allows for the resell of digital copies of games. I’m predicting that this option will not be available for gamers outside of the EU, but here’s hoping the ruling catches on in other parts of the world.

About the author

Rebecca Veverka

A lifelong Cleveland, Ohio native, Rebecca is the second member of Word of the Nerd that likes to be called Bex. What are the chances? An Anglophile, science and history buff, and avid gamer (both video and tabletop), Bex also spends her free time crafting, illustrating, reading, and getting into amicable arguments with strangers on the internet. She has entirely too much free time. One of her greatest accomplishments is that she's only suffered one minor head injury in her lifetime.

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