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Valve threatened with legal action by German consumer group

A German consumer advocacy group has challenged Valve for allegedly unfair enforcement of Steam's latest end-user license agreement and failure to allow users to resell game licenses. CinemaBlend reports the Federation of German Consumer Organizations has given the Washington-based company until October 10 to respond or it will take the case to court.

The German group claims Valve illegally coerced its users to consent to a new EULA (which forbade class-action lawsuits against the company, among other stipulations) in August by holding access to their paid library of games hostage. It also references a July EU court ruling that software manufacturers must allow for consumer resale of software licenses; Steam currently has no mechanism to allow for the transfer of activated games between user accounts.

The Federation of German Consumer Organizations has called out other video game companies before. In July it alleged Blizzard did not do enough to inform German consumers that Diablo III requires a constant online connection to play, who were then left out in the cold when servers went down.

GamesRadar has reached out to Valve for comment on the legal threats, but received no response as of publication time.

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11 comments

  • Fenrakk101 - September 24, 2012 2:16 p.m.

    Wait, are they planning a class-action lawsuit in response to Steam protecting itself from class-action lawsuits?
  • bass88 - September 24, 2012 3:54 p.m.

    It's kind of a principle thing. Valve brought in litigation that did not comply with EULA. If Valve got away with it, what's to stop other companies from doing it?
  • dcobs123 - September 24, 2012 5:45 p.m.

    Lol, their steam games could be in jeopardy.
  • gazzc - September 25, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    Well that depends if the consumer group agreed to the steam eula. Steam is only protecting its self from lawsuits from its subscribers, it can not create an eula that excludes the whole world from bringing action against it.
  • reddeaddigestion - September 26, 2012 5:44 a.m.

    This is the consequence to not "owning" products which you "buy" because they're not really "products", they're "services". TLDR: Valve has every leg to stand on in this situation, unfortunate as that may be, because all users of Steam have already waved any right to the digital games they're buying through accepting previous EULAs. This is the natural extension of those previous agreements which consumers never should have accepted in the first place. If you don't have any claim or stake in a product which you just paid money for, then that money is now and forever gone. You have no reason to ever expect recompense if the game becomes unavailable to you, because you accepted an agreement stating that you were only paying for the privilege of using the intellectual property. Welcome to the Matrix, boys.
  • Bloodstorm - September 24, 2012 2:27 p.m.

    You've not been able to really resell your computer games anyways since the inception of user-keys and mandatory activation for online play.
  • ParagonT - September 24, 2012 4:17 p.m.

    I will agree and say that any license agreement that impedes upon your ability to use the court system is one that I do not agree with, and corporate entities should be unable to do it in the first place. But of course, that's how companies slowly tie their consumers hands, one finger at a time.
  • azureguy - September 24, 2012 5:35 p.m.

    This subject has been brought up on German websites a week ago, and judging from both the news and the user comments on the subject, it's a non-issue. Valve doens't need to do a thing because what Valve offers is a subscription (the software is offered as long as the subscription is valid, once you quit it you lose everything), and that big court decision about reselling software was about software with a license that could be used without a time limit (the software can be used as long as one has the license - and has the install disks handy, which is another difficult thing for very old things). The court decision was done in order to make it ok to sell and buy older licenses of software of which newer versions are available. Let's say you want to get into character animation or professional video editing, but the current licenses are too damn expensive. For those people, older version may not be the most up-to-date version but still good. Now, I don't know which company it was, but basically someone wanted to prevent people from getting older version licenses so they can get more profit because customers would be forced to buy the newer licenses - that court decision prevented the rip-off for that particular case, and now everyone things all software can be resold. Cute, isn't it? That, and another German court decision are backing Valve in their favor, so there has to be a lot more coming up before this can mean real trouble for Valve.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 25, 2012 1:20 a.m.

    It's very difficult to write in bulletproof legal protection, and so Valve may still have all their work ahead of them. For those that say Valve is a supscription provider, then they need to explain why each game has its own dollar value.
  • Rowdie - September 25, 2012 8:14 a.m.

    Good. There needs to be an end to contracting out of Class Action suits and Contracting into binding arbitration. We are born with certain inalienable rights, for which you must contract out of if you want to play video games, work here, etc.
  • Shinn - September 26, 2012 5:57 a.m.

    A change would be nice. Every time one of those pops up I feel like Valve is blackmailing me.

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