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The Courts Games Your Rights Online

German Court Forbids Resale of Valve Games 261

Posted by timothy
from the einmal-und-nur-einmal dept.
sfcrazy writes "A German court has dismissed a 'reselling' case in favor of Valve Software, the maker of Steam OS. German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv) had filed a complaint against Valve as Valve's EULA (End User License Agreement) prohibits users from re-selling their games. What it means is that German users can't resell their Steam Games."
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German Court Forbids Resale of Valve Games

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  • Fascinating ruling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday February 10, 2014 @05:22AM (#46208543)

    [ Still using Slashdot until beta takes over, then I'll dump it. ]

    It's an interesting ruling. While Steam's lack of support for re-sale of games may run into legal issues, their willingness to keep games available at lower and lower price points as games get older shows that they're not abusing the privilege. If you can wait a while, the price will come down to a reasonable point and the game is available for people who'd have otherwise needed to buy the game used. And I've been delighted to see old games that I've enjoyed, such as the original Doom or Thief or X-com games, be available on Steam. It's helped me avoid having to recover and old games and simply pray that they'd be playable on modern operating systems: I'm very pleased with Steam for making older games available at very reasonable prices. We're actually getting something from them in return for their exclusive licensing.

  • Correct Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mseeger (40923) on Monday February 10, 2014 @05:23AM (#46208545)

    The correct headline would be:

    German court refuses to force Valve Steam to allow resale of games

    Too complicated?

    • The correct wording would be: a german court dismissed a case where the challenger argued the "you may not sell a steam/valve account" clause was unlawfull
      In other words:
      a) neither was the case about selling used games,
      b) nor was there a court ruling!

  • Regional Court (Score:5, Informative)

    by silanea (1241518) on Monday February 10, 2014 @05:34AM (#46208573)

    This is a decision by a regional court. They universally suck at rulings regarding any technology invented after 1900. A state court recently held a domain registrar responsible [heise.de] for copyright infringement. And nevermind the treasure trove of truly grotesque copyright-related rulings coming out of the city-state of Hamburg - they are legendary here in Germany, similar to patent cases in Texas.

    This is bound to be appealed, and our higher courts usually fare better when it comes to dealing with Das Internet.

  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Monday February 10, 2014 @06:21AM (#46208689) Homepage

    This follows a previous ruling:

    The matter was litigated all the way to Germany’s highest civil court, the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof; "BGH"), which dismissed the suit in 2010, finding that while the doctrine of exhaustion limited the rights holders’ powers with regards to an individual DVD, it did not require them to design their business in a way that facilitated the sale of used games and therefore did not make the Steam terms of service unenforceable.

    -- Osborne Clarke [osborneclarke.com]

    This second suit was prompted by a court case which found that the first sale doctrine ("doctrine of exhaustion") did apply to digital goods. However, it's not surprising this case was dismissed because it is not a question of what rights the consumer has over software they have purchased, it is a matter of what duties the software provider must guarantee to continue providing.

    IMHO it is perfectly reasonable that if it is a matter of online support (cost of server maintenance, etc.) that the one-time fee charged to one person does not in turn mean that person can give their support contract to someone else. The one time fee is presumably calculated based on typical use for a single account holder.

    But the single-player package should remain fully transferrable.

    And as for companies making games require internet connnections they really don't need to abuse the ambiguity here, let's just say I'm not going to cry when they complain about piracy.

    • by Barny (103770)

      On the flip-side, what right do you have to dictate the way their software license works?

      The only right you always have in this regard is the right not to play/use their software.

      • I don't know of any jurisidictions that recognize a 'right to dictate' how somebody's contract works; but the existence in contract law of doctrines that limit the scope of what any contract could do are fairly common. In the US, UK, and many UK-derived systems you have 'Unconscionability' [wikipedia.org], for instance. France, Germany, and (to varying extents) the Berne Convention signatories have 'moral rights' that are partially or wholly immune to sale or transfer unlike other elements of copyright. Details vary by lo
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday February 10, 2014 @07:06AM (#46208771) Journal
    Do the Germans have a single, very long, really angry-sounding, word for 'this software is licensed, not sold'? Inquiring minds want to know.
    • by 3247 (161794)

      Do the Germans have a single, very long, really angry-sounding, word for 'this software is licensed, not sold'? Inquiring minds want to know.

      Kaufvertrag!

      Yes, that just means "sales contract". Because the 'this software is licensed, not sold' meme does not work under German law.

  • First, I'm going to operate under the assumption that proprietary software is considered ethical; if you disagree you may have some valid points but we're just going to have to disagree.

    With digitally distributed software, the per-unit cost is negligible - the cost to the seller is almost entirely the cost to produce the "first copy". The ideal method of funding games entirely would reflect this fully, but I think it's going to take a while for crowd-funding to reach that level of cultural acceptance. Until

    • With digitally distributed software, the per-unit cost is negligible - the cost to the seller is almost entirely the cost to produce the "first copy".
      Well, Im not a marketing drid.
      But I had guessed otherwise.
      Asumming I have 10 developers working for two years I get something like 2 million raw development costs.
      On top of that I have the parasites like management and marketing. So lets hope for the sake of argument this is another 2 millions.
      Now I want to sell the result via downloads, perhaps on an App Sto

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        You are misunderstanding both the terminology and my argument.

        Let's say you're a car company. You have 10 engineers work for two years to design a car, plus marketing and management, at a total cost of $20M. That is your development cost.

        Let's further suppose that each car costs $20K to build, both in materials and labor. This is your per-unit cost.

        You would break even if you sold a single car for $20,020,000. Or you would break even if you sold a thousand cars at $40,000. Or if you sold a million cars at $

  • by Grismar (840501) on Monday February 10, 2014 @12:38PM (#46210447)

    The court didn't "forbid" anything like reselling games. They simply agreed with the EULA stipulation that you're not allowed to transfer ownership of an *account*. This actually makes perfect sense.

    The fact that Steam also disallows/lacks the functionality for the transfer (gifting or resale) of used games on Steam, simply means there's a market for other providers to start a platform that would allow sale and resale of games. Of course, they might have some trouble attracting large game publishers, but that's another matter altogether.

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