8th jul, 2012

You can sell used software

A new descision freom the European Court of justice UsedSoft vs. Oracle, states that you can resell a piece of software that you purchased legally. In the case Oracle wanted to prevent UsedSoft from selling old Oracle licenses enabling the purchaser to download the program from Oracles website.
Oracle tried all kinds of creative arguments in court – the right to the software was not transferred and software as a service and not a “work” – to name a few examples.
The court decided that
1.      Article 4(2) of Directive 2009/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the legal protection of computer programs must be interpreted as meaning that the right of distribution of a copy of a computer program is exhausted if the copyright holder who has authorised, even free of charge, the downloading of that copy from the internet onto a data carrier has also conferred, in return for payment of a fee intended to enable him to obtain a remuneration corresponding to the economic value of the copy of the work of which he is the proprietor, a right to use that copy for an unlimited period.
2.      Articles 4(2) and 5(1) of Directive 2009/24 must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of the resale of a user licence entailing the resale of a copy of a computer program downloaded from the copyright holder’s website, that licence having originally been granted by that rightholder to the first acquirer for an unlimited period in return for payment of a fee intended to enable the rightholder to obtain a remuneration corresponding to the economic value of that copy of his work, the second acquirer of the licence, as well as any subsequent acquirer of it, will be able to rely on the exhaustion of the distribution right under Article 4(2) of that directive, and hence be regarded as lawful acquirers of a copy of a computer program within the meaning of Article 5(1) of that directive and benefit from the right of reproduction provided for in that provision.
So basically you can sell your old software. An interesting point is that if you obtained a single license for 25 users you cannot resell 25 single licenses.
Why is this important
Firstly because THQ and Steam made me really mad a few years ago when my son was given “Dawn of War” by a friend. The friend already activated the game on Steam and therefore we couldn´t use the game. Steam Replied to my request for transformation of the CD key: “Steam game subscriptions and CD keys are non-transferable and cannot be reset or moved between Steam accounts. We will be unable to transfer this game to another account. You must be logged in to the original account it was registered to in order to play the game. If you have any further questions, please let us know.” With this ruling they are obligated to transfer the key. Let’s see what they say now.
Secondly because it is important to recognize that software is a good that can be sold and resold. There is a huge benefit out there for companies both wanting to get rid of old software and companies wanting to purchase the next best thing. The difference between the different office versions are not that big.

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