Steam Should The Sale of Video Games of Second Hand between Users?

When you go to the store and buy a physical game, you get to your home CD or Bluray you then you can do whatever you want. You can lend it to a family friend or you can even resell it once you have finished with it. However, if you buy a digital version of that title, your options are reduced: in the majority of cases, such as Steam and the new generation of consoles platforms, You may not resell it.

On several occasions already, Steam has been taken before the judge for not allowing the owners of digital games can resell them if desired. The most recent complaint have known it today through Ars Technica: a French consumer association UFC, has sued Valve ensuring platform violates several European laws, including allowing a user can resell digital content which had acquired previously.

In particular, the UFC makes reference to a judgment that the Court of Justice of the European Union published in 2012 in response to a case in which a company required to resell used Oracle software. The Court claimed that consumers had the right to resell software purchased in advance, regardless of the medium in which it was found (both physical and digital):

Given that the acquirer, who download a copy of the computer program disputed through a material medium, such as a CD-ROM or DVD, and celebrates the corresponding license agreement, obtains the right to use such copy by an unlimited life in Exchange for the payment of a price, it should be noted that these two operations also involve , in the case of the making available of a copy of the computer program disputed through a material medium, such as a CD-ROM or a DVD, the transfer of the right of ownership of such copy.

Steam was already brought to trial… and won

But, if we are talking about a sentence from 2012, how it is that nobody has resorted to it before to try what the UFC is trying to now? The answer is easy: Yes there have been similar initiatives, although these have not come to nothing. Taking advantage of the response of the European Court of Justice, in 2014 a German name vzbv consumers Association sued Valve demanding so that now the French demand. They lost, and it was not the first time that they were trying to.

In 2010, vzbv demanded by this same Valve. The Association then made reference to the doctrine of first sale or the “doctrine of exhaustion” as provided in the laws of many European countries, in addition to in the United States. According to this, the control of the author of a work about one of your backups ends one time been distributed individually. This is why you can have a book or an album and sell it if you want to do it, while the creator thereof can not oppose.

However, the German judge who studied this case did not see it so considering that, while there is the doctrine of first sale in the case of a DVD, “not forcing them to design your business in a way that facilitates the sale of second hand games”, as explained in the signature of lawyers Osborne Clarke, specializing in video games and multimedia.

In Germany there were two similar lawsuits, in 2010 and 2014, but both were dismissed

Back to 2014, when the vzbv took advantage of the recent ruling of the EU Court of Justice to try again and again to bringing Steam to the judge. This came back to dismiss the case. Why? Because he believed that this doctrine of first sale It does not apply to video games distributed via digital. Yes, applies in the case of “intangible copies” “computer software”, but the Court does not consider that video games are only software for computer but have “audiovisual components”. Rock Paper Shotgun explains it well.

Can I resell my digital assets?

All this controversy beyond still steam. Ultimately, are not video games the only thing that we bought in digital version: songs, movies, books, apps… What if you want to resell them? The problem, as it is usual in these cases, is that the legislation is outdated and has not been adapted to the digital world, so it is very interpretable.

The entertainment companies are adamantly against sell digital goods second-hand and on a possible reform of copyright laws. “Do that not only is unnecessary, but that it would radically alter the nature and purpose of the doctrine,” a former FOX Executive told Bloomberg at the beginning of year.

One of the arguments against the sale of digital files is that these files they do not age. Again, quoting the Bloomberg article:

“The big difference is that digital multimedia objects do not age. Used books or albums are worth less than the new copies because they deteriorate with use, and it takes some effort going a copy from person to person”. A digital file used, on the other hand, is as valuable as the original and is just as easy to distribute”.

It is also the issue of who is the owner of the file itself. In the case of second-hand software, some cases have been dismissed because really what the first purchaser acquires a license to use and not the software itself. If you read thoroughly the conditions of use from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and the rest of digital stores, you will get a surprise: the contents are associated with your account and reserves the right to cancel it (and, therefore, leave you with nothing) If breach its terms. Your purchased books in electronic format on Amazon aren’t yours: purchase a license to use, Nothing else.

How you revendes something that is not yours? Simple: you can’t, and in that the digital stores Castle

In the case of consoles, we carry years hearing possible rumors about the introduction of systems for the sale of video games among individuals, but the truth is that none has come to realize as such. It is allowed to play video games that another user has installed on the same console, and this feature is used enough to share accounts and digital games between several people handing out the cost, although it is prohibited in the terms of use and it may end in expulsion. In fact, with the passage of time have been limited this option. But, for now, no trace of an authorized digital sale of 2nd hand system.

The business of selling of second hand games

At the end, and as in all, are in a case where the interests of the companies they prevail above the interests of the users. Steam perfectly could allow individuals to Exchange games with freedom or even in Exchange for money, but then who would buy the originals? Currently offer the possibility of giving away games or swap them, but that Yes, always that purchased as a gift and that has not been played. In fact, in 2013 presented the Family Sharing to share games with friends.

It is not a technical limitation problem

It is clear that the problem is not a technical limitation or is not exclusively a problem of Steam, since same can be applied to digital stores Playstation and Xbox.

┬┐TAnto business does second hand video games market? 41% of the gross profit of GameStop proceeds from the sale of used games, compared with 26% of the new games. The difference is, for the most part, to which GameStop has a greater margin of benefit in the case of second hand games. That is not surprising that the company take from 2012 fighting for should be allowed to sell refurbished digital video. This same year they returned to emphasize, although it seems that the big distributors are very interested. Unfortunately, we have not found numbers of the other shops that operate in Spain.

We will follow closely the case of Steam in France. It also mentioned other laws which supposedly Steam breaches, as not to give back the money that remains a user in Steam Wallet when this closes your account or not be liable for the continuous failures of security. However, the most interesting of all will be see what the judge says on the sale of second hand digital games and other consumer associations to follow the example to press for a change.

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