A French court has made a monumental ruling with regards to the legality of preventing users from reselling legitimately purchased digital games on Valve’s PC gaming storefront. The court states that players should be able to sell Steam games which they’ve bought, rescinding ownership in the process just like with a physical media video game.
Released court documents, translated from French to English and viewable here, state that the reselling of digital entertainment licenses is not prohibited on any legal grounds. In fact, the process would be supported as it is with physical products due to the fact that “the author no longer has control over subsequent resales” once they’ve exhausted their right to the material by authorizing the initial sale.
It’s said that only the “interplay of contractual provisions” — the Steam subscription agreement, in this instance — stand in the way of Steam users being able to resell their games, and this is insufficient when as of 2012 European law has dictated that even rightful claimants (Valve) are “prohibited from opposing the resale of software.” To further clarify, that’s “including [software acquired] by downloading.”
At this early stage, it’s unclear as to whether or not this court ruling will ultimately lead to PC gamers being able to sell Steam games from their libraries. As pointed out by games journalist Ryan Brown on Twitter (see below), however, this notion has the potential to be “huge.”
Of course, if nobody pushes this forward in wider regions, or against other platform holders… then big change won't happen. The precedent is a real cinch if anyone wants to move on it in court though!
— Ryan Brown 🎮 (@Toadsanime) September 19, 2019
As Brown points out, with enough pressure applied to companies regarding this point, the industry could see widespread changes as we welcome the next generation of gaming platforms and their likely stronger leaning towards an all-digital future. He also raises a good point about game preservation, as more and more digital delistings are making games vanish from sight, often without any physical means of subsequently securing them.
It’ll be very interesting to see how this unfolds, so stick with GameRevolution for more as the situation develops.