Should you be able to resell Steam games?

22 December 2015

steam_logo A consumer group from That France has hit Valve with a lawsuit, saying that Steam (and its required terms of service) actually infringe on numerous European legal rights. The one you'll be most interested in, dear gamer, is the right to legally resell software you've purchased.

The UFC-Que Choisir (or 'federal union of consumers' if you prefer) say that Valve must provide the capability for Steam users to resell the games they've bought. If they have bought them legally, then by law, they should be able to sell them on.

The group notes that many online stores have similar resale restrictions, but that's not good enough. They say that the difference between being able to resell a physical disc with a game on it, and not being able to resell a digital one, is "incomprehensible... no court decision prohibits the resale on the second-hand market games bought online, and the European Court has even explicitly stated that it’s possible to resell software which, let’s remember, is an integral part of a video game."

UFC-Que Choisir are referring to a decision from the European Court of Justice a couple of years ago, which looked at the resale of downloadable software licensed from Oracle. The court ruled at the time: "It makes no difference whether the copy of the computer program was made available by means of a download from the rightholder’s website or by means of a material medium such as a CD-ROM or DVD."

"From an economic point of view, the sale of a computer program on CD-ROM or DVD and the sale of a program by downloading from the Internet are similar," added the court. "The on-line transmission method is the functional equivalent of the supply of a material medium."

Someone tried a similar case in Germany, but the Regional Court of Berlin ruled in favour of Valve. However, software publishers have previously argued ( and successfully, too) that software is licensed, not purchased, so normally sale rules don't apply here.

UFC-Que Choisir would also like to see a change in the way Valve refund remaining monies to customers when they close their accounts, and they'd also like to see Valve look at their claim to the right to reuse any user-created content on Steam "at will." This clause "denies... respect for the users'/creators' rights of intellectual property," the group says.

The group also want to see some liability, in the event of personal data being hacked or breached.

TOPICS:   Games   Consumer Advice

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