European Court Says Users Can Resell Downloaded Software

Brad Chacos

If you can sell an old CD when you're done with it, why can't you sell off an mp3 you no longer want, too? That very question is currently winding its way through the U.S. court system , but the European Union dished out a surprise ruling this week that says users have the right to resell their digitally downloaded software as they see fit, no matter what the original EULA or license says.

"An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet," the Court of Justice of the European Union said in a press release announcing the ruling . "The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence is exhausted on its first sale."

Basically, the top EU Court says that digital downloads are just another distribution model and for all intents and purposes, are the same as selling software on physical media such as a CD (which could already be resold). Of course, the court says that if you sell "used" software to someone else, you need to destroy the copy on your computer, or else you're breaking the law.

It remains to be seen how the ruling will affect digital distribution platforms like Steam, Origin or the various App Stores, at least in Europe. You have to wonder: will a ruling like this encourage game makers to embrace free-to-play titles even more enthusiastically than they already are?

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