A fresh question mark hangs over the viability of the pre-owned software market this morning after a ruling in the US Court of Appeal upheld a developer’s right to prevent the resale of its software.
Gamasutra reports that Autodesk has successfully won a case in which defendant Timothy Vernor had been arguing for his right to buy and use a pre-owned copy of design program AutoCAD.
Vernor acquired the software in an office sale and then listed it for sale on eBay along with a serial number.
Autodesk, however, argued that its End User License Agreement states that the software is licensed, and that the licence itself was non-transferable. It also states that if the user chooses to upgrade the program older versions should be destroyed.
The defendant, however, argued that since he had not agreed to any licence the conditions should not apply to him.
In 2008 a US Court ruled in Vernor’s favour, but following an appeal from Autodesk that ruling has now been overturned.
“We hold today that a software user is a licensee rather than an owner of a copy where the copyright owner specifies that the user is granted a license, significantly restricts the user’s ability to transfer the software and imposes notable use restrictions,” the Court concluded.
The implications for video games are obvious. Should publishers introduce similar conditions to their EULA’s then legal precedent suggests that re-sale of their titles would effectively be illegalised – in the US at least.