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A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals might mark the beginning of the end for the used game market. The case, ‘Vernor v Autodesk,’ involved the sale of copies of AutoCAD, a piece of software for designing and drafting in 3D, on eBay. Defendant Timothy Vernor had acquired copies of the AutoCAD software at an office sale and later attempted to sell it on eBay with the serial number and assurances that it was not installed on any other computers.
AutoCAD developer, Autodesk, attempted to prevent Vernor from selling the copies, claiming that Vernor never owned the software in the first place. Autodesk argued that according to the End User License Agreement, the AutoCAD software was licensed, not sold, and that a user’s license could not be transferred.
Above: The End User License Agreement (EULA) for a piece of design software could change the used game market in the US
Vernor argued that he had never agreed to Autodesk’s EULA when he purchased his copies of AutoCAD. Therefore, it was within his right to sell the software. The court ruled in favor of Vernon in 2008. But recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the earlier decision, ruling in favor of Autodesk.
The decision highlights the difference between software that is sold and software that is licensed. Software that is licensed, isn’t ‘owned’ in the traditional sense – and therefore can’t be sold to another party. If US game developers and publishers follow Autodesk’s lead, the sale of used games could be, technically, illegal. Gamasutra points to a standard line found in EULAs for most Electronic Arts titles, which says “This Software is licensed to you, not sold.”
Sep 14, 2010
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