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Games Your Rights Online

Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership 384

An anonymous reader writes "The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) has sued computer game distributor Valve because it prohibits Steam-gamers from reselling their games. Steam users own the games they purchase and should be able to resell them when they want to, just like owners of traditional card or board games can, said Carola Elbrecht, project manager for consumer rights in the digital world at the VZVB, on Thursday. But while those traditional game owners can resell their games whenever they like, Steam users often cannot, she said."
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Valve Sued In Germany Over Game Ownership

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  • Yeah, but if the law in Germany says otherwise, then it is the law that applies. That's the difference between laws and contracts (of which a license agreement is just a small part) and it's actually impossible to have a contract to break the law; contracts must be lawful or they are simply not contracts by definition. Even if the agreement says that it is not conducted under German law, German consumers will have the right to use German law anyway. (Well, probably; I've not actually checked what the relevant law says, but there's a lot of similarity in this area across different EU members and I know that UK law is very clear on this point.)

    The real question is not whether there's recourse in law, but how any ensuing judgements would be enforced. An unenforceable ruling really isn't much use.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:22AM (#42759291)

    Not true here in the UK. Steam is often priced 10-15% higher than retail, both via mail-order (the kind that houses it's warehouse in a tax haven and ships small-value packages to avoid paying it in the target country) and, for the big titles, the big-box supermarkets (like Asda) often have a competitive price as well.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Informative)

    by crafty.munchkin ( 1220528 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:43AM (#42759369)
    Actually here in Australia quite often the local store is cheaper. Current example - Far Cry 3 - $69.99 for digital download only Steam, vs $59.99 in the local store for the Insane Edition with the survival kit and bobble-head figurine... Assassins Creed 3 - $45 at the store, $69.99 on Steam.
  • Re:Finally (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:09AM (#42759425)

    Term of usage and EULA's are not contracts. Contracts demand informed consent, which that one can prove within reason that the other person understood what they signed. Contract law demand this because otherwhise, house sellers and job offers could try sneak in "creative" stuff into contract. The "cartoon" way of tricking people with contracts are not legal in the EU, and the law term that enforce this is "Informed consent".

    EULA's and Term of usage is more closer to disclaimers than contracts, and is more about published information rather than contracts. In those cases EULA's and Term of usage has been tested, the rulings are almost always in favor of the consumer.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:46AM (#42759515)

    Physical copies of games over here (Poland) are always much cheaper than Steam ones. Especially with Steam's usual $1=E1 prices, the difference is often quite significant and for some reason Steam counts us among the same price region as Netherlands, Germany, e.t.c.

    Example: Far Cry 3. E49.99 on Steam, E31 in a shop right next to my flat and you get one extra DLC with it.

    Steam gets cheap only during sales.


  • Re:Finally (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@[ ] ['hot' in gap]> on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:51AM (#42759541) Homepage

    EULAs have been challenged in courts multiple times here in Finland, every single time ending up in loss for the EULA-enforcer. The simple fact is that an EULA is covered by copyright laws, and copyright law cannot remove rights given by other laws. It most certainly is NOT covered by contract laws. That means that even if the EULA e.g. specifically said that you cannot sell the item after you're done with it the clause is invalid and you are perfectly within your rights to sell it.

  • Re:Trade-offs (Score:5, Informative)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:53AM (#42759929) Homepage Journal

    You mean like the "Not For Individual Sale" labels on most bulk-packaged items?

    No, that is for a company to avoid labeling each unit individually. I.e. improving profits by cutting costs.
    The buyer can still sell the individual packages, he just has to provide the next customer with the mandated labeling.

    What I'm talking about is a future where a restaurant (or soup kitchen) can get sued because they served soup licensed for home use only, without paying extra licensing fees.
    It's not as far-fetched as you might think - the beer and soda industry already tried it a few years ago, suing a pub that bought bottled beverages cheaper at a local supermarket, arguing that those cheaper bottles were not intended for re-sale. A few more battles, and big business might even start winning. Because the general public can't be arsed to care, as long as it doesn't appear to affect them.

  • Re:inevitable (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:20AM (#42760043) Homepage
    No. It's Germans who make a contract with a german outlet of Valve, following german law. If Valve's infrastructure is not able to handle the problem, they shouldn't do business in Germany. And a change in an EULA does neither change a court verdict nor a law in Germany. The new EULA has to adhere to german law too, and german law says that either Valve rents the game or it sells it, so either the legal framework of a rent or that of a sale applies. No EULA can change this legal fact.

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