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Post by trog @ 10:49am 12/06/08 | 2 Comments
Good news for consumers (at least in the US) today with the announcement by the EFF that Universal Music has lost a federal court case in which they were trying to claim that they had perpetual ownership in promotional CDs when someone tried to sell some Universal promo discs on eBay.

While this isn't gaming related, it's good news for everyone because it sets a strong precedent in the area of first sale doctrine law. This basically means that if you buy a CD (or a video game, or a piece of software) you should be able to sell it further down the track if you decide you don't want it any more.

In the digital world, the incentive for content owners to try to block this is obvious - they want to stop you from being able to do this with EULAs and other licensing schemes, specifically so they can make sure no-one can buy second hand copies of their works - leading to more sales.

copyrightfirst sale

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Posted 11:36pm 12/6/08
Interesting... so does this ruling partially invalidate particular sections of some EULAs?

Come to think of it, what are the legal ramifications of EULAs (in the contractual sense) these days? Submitting end users to the complexity of some of those documents brings the validity of such documents into some question in my mind.
Posted 12:33am 13/6/08
From the summary on the EFF website that trog linked to I wouldn't get too excited.

It sounds like the judge has based the decision on the fact that the promo CDs were given away.

See under contract law there needs to be "consideration" passed in both directions, i.e. benefit of some kind. So by giving away the CDs the Labels can't claim that they've "licensed" them (license being just another form of contract). There was never any expectation that the recipients of the CDs had any obligation to do anything with them.

Unfortunately what this could be used as precedence for is that freesoftware and GPL software can't be licensed.
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