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?