Thursday

20th Feb 2020

Focus

No ban on second-hand software, says EU court

  • EU law allows second-hand software sale, says a preliminary ruling by the ECJ (Photo: eurocontrol)

EU copyright law does not ban the re-sale of computer programme licences, according to a ruling on Wednesday (25 April) by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

The judgement by the EU court follows a dispute between German second-hand software shop UsedSoft, which sells pre-owned software licenses to businesses who then use the licenses to download programmes made by US software company Oracle. Oracle had originally taken the case to the German Federal Court, who then called on the ECJ for an opinion, arguing that under the terms of the EU Computer Programmes Directive its licenses were non-transferable.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The case rests on the legal definition of the 'principle of exhaustion' which states that once a product has been sold, the owner of the intellectual property rights cannot stop the buyer from re-selling it on. In its legal submission, Oracle had claimed that it does not sell software, instead selling licences which are then used to download software.

In response, Advocate General Yves Bot described this as a "somewhat artificial distinction" adding that to him "the assignment of a right of use over a copy of a computer programme does indeed constitute a sale."

In his legal opinion which, though not legally binding is expected to form the basis of future legal judgements by the Court, Bot ruled that while UsedSoft was guilty of allowing its customers to copy rather than re-use Oracle's software, EU copyright law did not permit Oracle to prevent the resale of used copies of software, downloaded by their own customers from the internet, “given that their exclusive right of distribution relating to those copies is ‘exhausted’.”

Under the terms of the Computer Programmes Directive, re-sellers do not require the consent of the software producer provided that reproduction is "necessary for the use of the computer programme by the lawful acquirer in accordance with its intended purpose".

Advocate Bot stated that "in the event of resale of the right to use the copy of a computer programme, the second acquirer cannot rely on exhaustion of the right to distribute that copy in order to reproduce the programme by creating a new copy even if the first acquirer has erased his copy or no longer uses it."

In a statement following the decision, Karl Cox, Oracle’s vice president for public policy welcoming the ruling saying that it would “create a precedent that protects software developers of all sizes and protects innovation in the technology industry,”

EU court rules social networks cannot police downloads

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has struck the latest blow in the debate over internet policing, ruling on Thursday that online social network sites cannot be forced to construct measures to prevent users from downloading songs illegally.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Column

Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe

The continent that gave the world the Enlightenment has collectively reverted to believing in fairy tales and the soothing power of cozy narrowness. Moscow and Beijing like what they see, and are doing everything to strengthen the trend.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us