Video game resales could soon be illegal in US

Retailers who are in the business of selling used video games could find their doors shuttered in the future, thanks to a Court of Appeals ruling stating that software companies may prohibit customers from reselling products.

The case involved an individual who attempted to sell copies of AutoCAD on eBay after acquiring them at an office sale. According to the program’s End User License Agreement (EULA), the product is simply licensed and not actually sold to customers, and is therefore non-transferable.

Video game resales could soon be illegal in US

“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 ruling stated.

The court’s decision reverses a 2008 ruling which upheld the customer’s right to resell the software. AutoCAD manufacturer Autodesk appealed that ruling.

Effects of the court’s decision could be widespread in the world of digital media, and has the potential to kill the huge used video game business that exists in the US today. A look at Electronic Arts’ EULA reveals a very similar verbiage as the AutoCAD EULA which states that the software is licensed, not sold.

The US government needs to carefully consider the ramifications of traveling down this road. The loss of the used gaming industry would certainly please game manufacturers, who would love more money in their coffers, but could deal a devastating blow to the economy as well as severely limit the accessibility of games. Many customers cannot afford to drop $60 on every game that they purchase, and the loss of entire retail chains, such as Gamestop, would add to the already record-high unemployment numbers in the country. Hopefully, someone thinks this one through and stops it before it’s too late.