News business Steam: Huge blow for the resale of dematerialized games in France!
Published on 25/10/2022 at 11:26
The question of the relationship between the sale of games in physical and dematerialized relates to many subjects. From ownership to ecological issues, including price and access to content, it’s all there. But the question of the resale of dematerialized games remains at the heart of the matter.
UFC-Que Choisir vs. Valve: the resale of dematerialized games at the origin of the dispute
In France, for more than 10 years, the consumer association UFC-Que Choisir fights against Steam by suing the leader of the digital market. The association attacks in particular the clauses located in the conditions of use and purchase, jabusive and unfavorable suggestions to users. Already in 2015, UFC-Que Choisir had attacked Valve before the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris about these clauses, and in particular about the impossibility for the consumer to be able to resell his games to other users.
The association pointed the finger the absence of a law prohibiting resale of games purchased legally in dematerialized form, and therefore the fact that Valve couldn’t impose it to its customers. Valve was also accused of not taking responsibility for account hacks, with a noticeable lack of follow-up when disputes arose. Finally, the application of the law was also at issueValve complying with Luxembourg law for obvious administrative and financial reasons.
A first judgment against Valve and Steam
Then we had to wait, but in 2019the High Court had rendered a judgment in favor of UFC-Que Choisirclaiming that Valve could not object to resale of a copy, “even if the initial purchase had been made by way of download”. Same thing for publishers, sellers on Steam, who could no longer “oppose the resale of this copy or copy, notwithstanding the existence of contractual provisions prohibiting a subsequent transfer.”
No law having been passed in the meantime, the decision made case law, but no resale market for second-hand digital games has failed to structure itself. The process is indeed difficult with digital structures and economies to develop, and the platforms have no interest in promoting the practice. They couldn’t stop it anymore, but nothing forced them to organize it. Of course, the joy was only short-lived for UFC-Que Choisir, since Valve appealed of the decision.
The first verdict overturned, the copyright comes into play
On October 21, the Paris Court of Appeal therefore rendered a new verdict, and it’s a thunderclap, which is likely to bury any idea of reselling digital games for quite a while. Indeed, the Court completely reversed the decision of the first instancecreating a distinction between video games sold dematerialized, and other types of software.
For the Court, and according to the remarks reported by the Informed and relayed by various media, the market for second-hand immaterial copies of video games “is likely to affect the interests of copyright holders much more strongly than the second-hand market for computer programs.” If the law therefore authorizes the resale of the software license, for video games as only works with an artistic dimensionthe question of copyright arises.
An essential point for the judges of the Court of Appeal, who consider that the opening of such a second-hand market would harm the rights holders. UFC-Que Choisir has not yet spoken on the subject, but can still appeal in cassation. This court is not intended to re-examine the facts judged, but can be seized in the where the plaintiff believes that the courts and the courts of appeal have not properly applying the law.
Source: The informed, via BFM.