Login | Signup

Digital Resale: Steam Hit By First EU Complaint

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
EU, Law, Pre-owned games, Steam

Digital Resale: Steam Hit By First EU Complaint

It begins. After the EU Court Of Justice ruled that European citizens have the right to resell digital content licenses (i.e. sell on digitally downloaded games) last year, a consumer action group is seeking legal action against Steam for not providing any means of doing so.

The Federation of German Consumer Association (VZBV) contends that Steam should give EU customers the ability to sell their games library, allowing us to treat digital downloads like boxed products. According to their translated statement, they're willing to take their complaint to the supreme court if necessary, should the "forced marriage" to locked and unsellable licenses not be addressed by changes to the EULA.

The VZBV is actually backed up by EU precedent. Last year, the court of justice ruled that "an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his 'used' licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet... the exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence is exhausted on its first sale."

"The principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website."

"Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy - tangible or intangible - and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right."

Valve has yet to respond, but Green Man Gaming have suggested that the result of any lawsuit would be a "foregone conclusion" in favour of consumers. It's worth noting, however, that there's no legal directive forcing Steam or other online marketplaces to allow for digital resale as yet. We'll await the result of VZBV's lawsuit with considerable interest.

Would you be interested in selling your Steam games second-hand?

Add a comment6 comments
Quietus  Feb. 1, 2013 at 15:38

Well, I've always been a hoarder, and have never sold any game, so I never would (except for duplicates or games I got in bundles, but am not interested in), but I can completely understand that some people would play a game once, and then want to sell it on.

StuartU  Feb. 1, 2013 at 16:02

This is a positive thing for consumers - Steam is very anti-consumer for everything except the price at the moment. They don't allow refunds even if you're unhappy with your purchase a day later, their customer service is notoriously poor (online only, takes days to get a message in response) and no resale.

It's a shame it will take the EU courts to force the issue though.

Korma  Feb. 1, 2013 at 17:44

Anybody want to buy a pristine copy of Netscape Navigator?

r3tract  Feb. 1, 2013 at 18:14

Potentially bad news for Steam users. Prices will likely increase by a lot as a result.

Tsung  Feb. 2, 2013 at 16:54

Prices may rise, or Steam might decide to withdraw from the EU Market (I guess the EU cannot force steam to sell in EU). Either way I see it as a lose/lose for the customer...

I believe consumer have choice already, either accept the terms of sale or don't buy the product. Sadly I think people think they have an entitlement to everything nowadays. :/

xx-Mart-xx  Feb. 2, 2013 at 18:28

Prices may rise, or Steam might decide to withdraw from the EU Market (I guess the EU cannot force steam to sell in EU). Either way I see it as a lose/lose for the customer...

I believe consumer have choice already, either accept the terms of sale or don't buy the product. Sadly I think people think they have an entitlement to everything nowadays. :/



It's not about entitlement at all! Several PC games I've purchased recently have *required* a Steam account. It wasn't optional. Those games are then locked into Steam forever. The install media becomes worthless as essentially what you're paying for is the Steam key.

I would go further and say it's the game developers themselves that feel they are entitled to prevent game resale. Entitled to a cut of the used game market. Entitled to sell buggy software with little/no comeback from consumers.

Imagine the outcry if you tried to sell your car after a few years of ownership and Ford/Vauxhall etc wouldn't let you unless they got a cut of the resale value...

As a consumer if you buy something you should be protected against sharp practice and unfair T's & C's.

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.