Selling used software is legal

A decision by the European Court of Justice this week opens the way for buyers of content to resell it, whatever the terms of the original licence.

The Court ruled that UsedSoft, a Germany company, was legally selling used Oracle software.  Oracle argued that UsedSoft was breaching its licensing policy: but the Court said not.  UsedSoft buys software which the user no longer needs and resells it with the product code.  All perfectly legal, the Court said.

Reselling software is legal

Most of UsedSoft’s  business is for Microsoft packages.  Microsoft, Oracle and others would like to stop UsedSoft’s business, often claiming that it may be piracy, claims UsedSoft’s chief executive.  But the Court has given UsedSoft’s business model a clean bill of health.

The Court’s ruling says even if the original licence prohibits resale, that licence is “extinguished” on the first sale.  For this resale to be valid the original buyer must delete all the copies of the software sold on or it would be piracy.

A new market in used content

So far this only applies to software.  It may not apply to other content because the Court was interpreting the EU’s software licensing law.  It certainly changes the face of the software market.   And could, if applied to other content, mean a whole secondary market in used content.

One thought on “Selling used software is legal

  1. noelu says:

    This court ruling puts a long awaited dent in 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. Secondary software licence clients should therefore always question the transparency of the secondary supplier’s business models so that there is tangible evidence of the transfer of ownership back to the original acquirer and that the software has been de-installed by the original acquirer – a Notary certificate will not necessarily achieve this.

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