Wednesday, 4 July 2012

European Court: You can resell your digital games

That sound you hear is the ton of bricks I just shat.

Even though I strongly suspect that this will be roughly everywhere on the Internet that actually matters by the time that this post actually goes up, it's still something that I'd be absolutely remiss not to talk about. Just yesterday a decision by the European Court of Justice has made it so that if you want to resell licenses of your digital content -- games included -- that you're free to so long as you render your own copy of the content unusable.


Now, before I put the cart ahead of the horse a couple of things need to be said; this is coming from Europe, so there's a potential for little impact here in North American markets. Also, taking a look at the law, there is a lot of wiggle room, particularly for that clause that states that the current user will have to render their copy of the software unusable in order for the resale to be valid. It's not necessarily difficult to implement such things, but at the moment there's been no real reason to do so.

I don't expect this to cause momentous change overnight, or even soon, but what's interesting (and important) here is the precedent that's just been set. The effect of this ruling could have some impact on if, or rather when, such a case finally pops up in America. A lot of publishers seem to think at the moment that moving to an all digital distribution system is one of the only ways to cull the used game market that they consider to be killing a lot of the sales in the industry (again, whether you agree or disagree with that is another conversation entirely, and one that I've already partially covered, so I won't be again here), but if that no longer holds true then what does it mean?

There are some concerns, like how people will be kept honest in terms of slagging their copies of the software once they are passed on. I'm not sure how it would work; perhaps a ban that would last until you repurchase a copy of whatever you sold? Or just getting rid of the validation key that's being used? Either way measures would have to be put in to prevent piracy.

The cynical part of me pretty much also immediately screamed that this could mean the end to things like Steam Sales, given that if work isn't put into the system there could be people making profits off of buying the games during deeply discounted sales, and then selling them for closer to the usual listed price. Of course, if this measure is to be taken, then it cannot be taken in half-steps. There needs to be things implemented like being unable to sell the game for a price higher than what you bought it for, and having to sell a bundle as a bundle instead of as individual games.

Of course right now this is all still just a pipe dream, but it's one that seems significantly closer to happening now than ever before.

1 comment:

  1. Intriguing. I wonder what this means for Blizzard titles in Europe; most Blizz games have EULAs preventing this sort of thing.


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