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EU court rules: it’s okay to resell downloaded software

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Users of digitally downloaded software can sell it on secondhand, providing they deactivate or delete the original copy from their hard drive, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The ruling comes in a case referred to the ECJ from a German court involving Oracle and local firm usedSoft, which resells secondhand licences of its software: a practice Oracle was trying to block.

The ruling has implications for developers like Autodesk, which has argued in the past that users merely license its software temporarily, rather than buying it outright, and do not have the right to sell it on.

This view was successfully challenged in the US courts in 2009.

Downloaded software is owned software, too
Today’s ruling, which applies to the whole of the European Union, clears up a further grey area: whether digitally downloaded copies of software can be resold.

While today’s news will be welcome to anyone looking to sell on CG software, there are limitations. First, the ECJ ruling only covers perpetual licenses, so it wouldn’t apply to Adobe’s new Creative Cloud, for example.

And secondly, it only applies to downloaded products, not those provided as software as a service, where data is streamed to the users’s machine, but the software itself resides elsewhere in the cloud: a model that Autodesk is increasingly beginning to adopt with services like PLM 360.

There are a number of other fine points, too, so if you’re interested in this issue, the article linked below, which provides a more detailed analysis of the case, is well worth reading.

Read about the European Court of Justice ruling on

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3 responses to “EU court rules: it’s okay to resell downloaded software”

  1. meatpuppet said:

    All this means is developers are going to got to a subscription model so we can’t make money off their software. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    8:40 pm on Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  2. Noel said:

    This court ruling creates a long awaited ‘dent’ into the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) tactics employed by the software vendors. However, worth noting that Usedsoft’s use of a ‘Notary’ (in part, to hide where the licences came from) was deemed illegal by the German courts and Usedsoft is now also going through insolvency proceedings. There are other secondary software licence suppliers whom adopt more transparent business models that do not rely on the Exhaustion Principle eg:

    8:28 am on Wednesday, July 4, 2012

  3. mariano said:

    @meatpuppet: yeah, both autodesk and adobe wanna go into the cloud to get a deathgrip to their software – but yet it also creates opportunities for those companies that don`t have any issues with their software being sold, like Luxology or others. I am sure when this happens both AD and Adobe will wake up in no time…

    10:14 am on Wednesday, July 4, 2012

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