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Court ruling threatens used games market

Licensing agreement prohibits selling on.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

The sale of used games in the US is under threat after a federal court ruled in favour of developer Autodesk in a dispute over second-hand software.

Autodesk had taken action against Timothy Vernor, who had been selling unopened copies of its AutoCAD software on eBay after buying them at garage sales.

The court overruled a 2008 decision stating that the copyright holder had no power to prevent consumers selling a product on, on the grounds that the product's licensing agreement states that the developer has only licensed the right to install the program to the purchaser, rather than selling it wholesale.

The decision could potentially open the floodgates to claims from games publishers, many of whom already use similar language in their own licence agreements.

Gamasutra noted that EA's standard licence agreement reads, "This Software is licensed to you, not sold."

Used games sales currently account for 31.4 per cent of all sales at GameStop, the world's largest games retailer. In the last financial quarter alone, that added up to more than $565 million.

Vernor's lawyer, Gregory Beck of Public Citizen, told the AP that he will seek a review of the decision and consider appealing to the US Supreme Court.

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