Had a game gathering dust on your shelf or taking space on your hard drive? Living in fear of copyright rulings as of late that’s seemingly brought the hammer down on anyone and everyone? Well quiver in fear no longer…at least if you live in Europe.
A recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union  has officially stated that “an author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet”. In essence, it is now illegal in Europe for companies to try to stop you from selling your used digitally distributed software.
As for what qualifies as “used”? Well, the ruling pretty much covers that as well:
The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence is exhausted on its first sale.
And that is that. After a company has their first sale, they can’t do anything else about it. This step is huge in the digital distribution sense. You are now officially allowed to sell your Steam / Origin / GoG games and whatever…if you live in Europe.
Not to ignore the elephant in the room, this obviously flies in the face of EULAs signed by end-users on their part agreeing that they would not take part in exactly this. However, repeated precedent has shown that EULAs hold no water against actual laws. For if you agree to an EULA that is contradictory to European law, that point of the EULA is void.
On the other side, this brings up another argument that could be brought up: At the time of the agreement, it could be stated that the end-user agreed that the EULA was NOT contradictory to EU law. It is NOW contradictory, but not when the contract was originally agreed upon. It could also be argued that the companies don’t have to support EU law because (for the most part) they’re not located within the EU. And as far as US is concerned, these companies are the complete opposite of MegaUpload. Which makes the likelihood of extradition extraordinarily low.
On the OTHER other side, As long as these companies sell their product within the EU, they fall under EU commercial law. Many will see this as a plain fact and simple to understand. They’ll rationalize that if these companies don’t want to deal with it, they would have to stop to selling to the EU completely. [Protip: This likely won’t happen.]
After all, here’s the magical phrase in the ruling that makes any and all EULA and EU law conflicts hopefully go the way of the dodo:
“Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy. “
So expect some overhauls by Fully-Verified  in a handful of Terms of Service agreements soon. And hopefully some fancy new licence-transfer features as well. Here, have another quote:
“Therefore the new acquirer of the user licence, such as a customer of UsedSoft, may, as a lawful acquirer of the corrected and updated copy of the computer program concerned, download that copy from the copyright holder’s website.”
This means Steam, GOG, Origin, et al., NEEDS to supply a way to transfer the ‘right to download the game’ to the proper party. Whether this feature will include a nominal fee or not remains to be seen. Don’t be surprised if it does; the potential revenue to be made there is astounding. Here’s a hypothetical for you: Even if the fee is something around ten cents and it’s Euro counterpart, the volume alone could net Gabe and company quadrillions of dollars. Gorillians even.
Whether we’ll see the US following suit remains to be seen. Since most recent copyright defense actions have originated from the states, expect any adaptation to be at a snail’s pace at best.