EU's Court of Justice: Customers can sell their software (licences)

Discussion in 'Politics & Ethics of Technology' started by Richard, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Richard

    Richard Mord's imaginary friend
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    Saw on Blues that a preliminary ruling from this body declares software licenses, whether sold as physical or digital copies, exhaust the right of sale thereby allowing customers to resell the license. Read a longer "analysis" at RPS especially the part where it's specifically mentioned this right can't be denied.

    So, either the final decision is changed, it's appealed or software stops being sold and starts being rented. Steam, et al will have to have to provide a means to divest oneself of a game.

    EDIT: if you can't read the PDF linked in those sites (like the current computer I'm using), here's the judgment's webpage.
     
  2. Arwin

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    Yeah, pretty interesting to see where this will be going.
     
  3. aaronspink

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    Where it will be going is likely bad. This removes any incentive for publishers to actually sell you a game instead of selling you a 1 year/month/week license with additional fees for each additional time period, even if those fees are negligible.

    So basically if this stays valid, expect to pay the current price for say a 6 month license and then have to pay some fee like $5 for each additional 6 month period you want access after the first month is up.

    Expect this to apply to both physical and online versions.

    AKA, this ruling effectively forces publishers down a path that is worse for consumers. This is because of how the ruling was worded/done which basically means that selling a perpetual license removes all rights from the publishers, and therefore the obvious solution for them is to not do it.
     
  4. aaronspink

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    On further reflection, this ruling could actually cause a complete boycott of the EU by publishers and developers, even those based in the EU. It opens such large loopholes that copyright may no longer even be enforceable inside the EU.

    The problem basically becomes that I can buy a small number of digital copies and basically sell them to a near infinite number of people via timeslicing sales and buybacks.

    This is REALLY REALLY bad and is going to cause an incredible number of lawsuits and legal issues. Basically the EU Court of Justice just opened up a HUGE can of worms!

    And it affects so many things. This basically blows away close to a century of copyright law. The fact that this will impact both motion video, audio, computer software, etc, will likely see this ruling revisited. At the very least, the EUCoJ will have to seriously revisit the working of this ruling.
     
  5. Simon F

    Simon F Tea maker
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    Can you "explain the logic underlying that conclusion"?
     
  6. aaronspink

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    It is the conjunction of digital content which allows instant resale combined with no restriction on resale. In effect, it allows instantaneous transfer which means 1 copy can effectively be multiplexed among a multitude of users.
     
  7. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    The current licensing system was only ever an end-run around consumer law anyway.

    Suppose you bought a chair, and when you got it home you found it had a EULA that says you don't own the chair, you have merely been granted a licence that allow you to use the chair as long as you stay within the licensed conditions. For instance you can't lend or sell the chair to anyone, you can't change or disassemble the chair. If the chair is broken or doesn't work correctly, you have no rights to send it back for a refund, you just have to wait to see if the manufacturers issue you with a fix at some point in the future, etc.

    In anyone's book, you "bought" the chair, but in reality, it isn't really yours. At least with this new ruling, software developers will have to be honest about their products, and price accordingly. If they put out buggy pieces of crap, they won't be able to just brush it off and leave the customer stuck.
     
  8. Bludd

    Bludd Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall
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    Funny, It Worked Last Time...
    How can you multiplex 1 license?
     
  9. Arwin

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    It's irrelevant legally anyway. If a company requires you to buy one of their products by purchasing a licence key, then licence key is one product that can be resold. Regardless of what online system the software does or does not use to validate that licence and its owner, reselling a licence key is already possible today in most cases, and in the case below supplier decided to try to fight the customer on that and failed.
     
  10. aaronspink

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    Hour 1-10, A uses it
    Hour 10-12, B user it
    Hour 12-15, C uses it
    Hour 16-20, D uses it

    etc.

    As an example, Video stores pay more for their copy of a movie than normal customers. This law effectively means that anyone can buy any copy and be free of any licensing restrictions. The licensing restrictions were the only thing preventing publishers from using a lease only model.
     
  11. Frank

    Frank Certified not a majority
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    So, it's bad, because the publishers are dishonest scumbags who rather not sell you something than give you a honest deal? And so we want THEIR rights to fuck us over protected? Like, an enforceable EULA? Because we get worse deals in any case?

    Sounds like their goods are drugs, and it's high time something is done against those practices.
     
  12. aaronspink

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    You do realize that people "buy" chairs like that all the time right?
     
  13. Frank

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    Well, it might sound stupid to you, but if, for example, you buy a car, that's exactly what you can do with it. Why should software be different?

    "Yes, but you can transfer it instantly to the other side of the Earth, which you cannot do with a car!"

    Why, yes, that's why we still pay the same prices for software that is now delivered to us without distribution costs and other overhead, right? Who are we consumers to want a fair deal?
     
  14. aaronspink

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    Part of the issue surrounding digital goods is the ease with which the product can be multiplexed among multiple users. With a physical good, even a DVD, the ease of multiplex is significantly less. If the multiplexing ability stands, it effectively makes the digital product more valuable since any downtime can be effectively timeshared. The key point of the ruling is that no restrictions on resale are valid.

    Imagine if you are a company like Winzip. You sell a useful product but a somewhat infrequently used product. You price it reasonably for this. Then someone buys 100 licenses, and start time multiplexing them among users with say 10,000 users. This becomes popular, pretty soon, all your potential customers aren't buying your product but buying a timeslice when they need to use it from a third party. You no longer make enough money to do future R&D.

    I can use a lot of other examples for this.

    The way in which the ruling is worded, it is pretty much open season. Once you have bought the product, you can sell it in any fashion you wish. Which also means that pretty much any rental/rental like arrangement can also be made.

    This fundamentally changes the relationship between the software developer and user in such a way that it basically breaks the economics of the industry.
     
  15. aaronspink

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    Why should it be different? Because a car cannot basically teleport anywhere on earth within a second.

    This is orthogonal to the discussion at hand.

    And according to the text of this ruling, even cars have higher legal barriers to transfer of ownership.

    To really understand the impact of this ruling, think of it this way, this effectively brings fractional banking to digital content! Fractional banking was a major fundamental shift in the way money works. This is very much the same and on the same level.
     
  16. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    No, please explain, because you're just being obtuse here. Are you saying that the current system is okay because lots of customers are already fooled into thinking they bought and own some software, instead of realising they just licensed it with a load of unreasonable restrictions?
     
  17. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    You mean like how if I buy a chair and I'm not sitting in it, my wife can sit in it instead? Or if I'm not using my PC, my wife can use it and the software that is installed on it?

    How terrible, I'm no doubt breaching all my licences, just as I am if I lend my Ipod to my wife, or format shift her CDs to her MP3 player, or any of the unrealistic and unfair restrictions on the product I "bought".
     
  18. Arwin

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    I disagree with you. The ruling specifically says that the licence can only be sold if the software in question no longer runs on the machine of the original owner, and now runs on the machine of the new owner. It is very similar if a customer of ours buys one of our tools to export documents, and he gets requests from various different users to export documents, and he does it for them, or these customers can install the software at the same time. In fact, even now, if we buy a single user licence as a company, we can install that on the machine of one user (some licences come with four seats by default, etc.) at a time. If someone else needs it, we de-install from one machine and install on the next (also happens if a user gets a new machine).

    We are both buyers and sellers of licences, and I don't see the issue.
     
  19. aaronspink

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    No, I'm saying that lots of chairs are sold in cases where the possessor does not in fact own the chair. Be it either via lease/reverse lease or via credit based purchases.
     
  20. aaronspink

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    Fundamentally, the issue the ruling creates has little to due with ideas of freedom or fairness. It has to due with a fundamental shift in business model which will eventually force the situation that you won't be able to purchase a program but at best rent for a limited time.

    This isn't a case of your wife using your computer, this is a case of your computer magically teleporting into a nebulous pool to be used any anyone when you aren't using it. That fundamentally is what this paves the way to.
     
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