German Consumer Group Sues Valve

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German Consumer Group Sues Valve

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The Federation of German Consumer Organizations says Steam users should be able to resell their games without restriction.

You know how it goes: You buy a game on Steam, it's attached to your account forever and that's the end of the story. But that's not good enough for the German consumer group VZVB, which says that Steam users should be able to sell their games just like owners of conventional card and board games, and has filed a lawsuit to try to make it happen.

Steam users only "partially" own their games, according to Carola Elbrecht of the VZVB, because even though they can burn backup copies onto disc, the games remain tied to individual accounts and Valve's terms of service forbids their sale or transfer to another user. The VZVB initially threatened Valve with legal action over its TOS in September 2012 but its demands went ignored, leading to the legal action.

"If I pay the full price for a game, then why am I not allowed to do with it what I want?" Elbrecht asked.

A previous VZVB lawsuit against Valve was dismissed in 2010 but in July of last year the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that "used" software license sales are legal, a decision that Elbrecht said gives the VZVB grounds for the new lawsuit. She expects that the case will drag on for years but added that regardless of how it works out, it will serve a purpose by raising awareness of the issue and possibly convince other online distributors to change their own practices. Valve, however, appears to consider the matter already settled.

"We are aware of the press release about the lawsuit filed by the VZBV, but we have not yet seen the actual complaint," Doug Lombardi of Valve told Gamasutra. "That said, we understand the complaint is somehow regarding the transferability of Steam accounts, despite the fact that this issue has already been ruled upon favorably to Valve in a prior case between Valve and the VZBV by the German supreme court. For now, we are continuing to extend the Steam services to gamers in Germany and around the world."

Sources: PC Advisor, Gamasutra

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If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

I will laugh so very hard if the end result here is that Valve just stops selling games to German customers.

But seriously? Used digital games still make no !@#$%ing sense. Consumer rights are good and all, but used digital games are still nonsense.

If it was legal to resell a digital game, I could sell the same copy seventy three bajillion times using the magic of Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V.

Do they have any grounds to sue them? Is there any rule that says digital property has to be resellable?

Germans are on a "rip companies' asses" track as of late. Good on them. I'd like to have a system like this to happen, then I'd be able to give games I don't play to other gamers while legally getting money out of that. Which I would then throw at Steam during the sales.

thesilentman:
Germans are on a "rip companies' asses" track as of late. Good on them. I'd like to have a system like this to happen, then I'd be able to give games I don't play to other gamers while legally getting money out of that. Which I would then throw at Steam during the sales.

Hell, they could probally also do what they do with the markeyplace and have a surcharge attached that goes to valve.

Magikarp:
Do they have any grounds to sue them? Is there any rule that says digital property has to be resellable?

There is in Europe. One of the EU courts ruled that software licenses should be resaleable some time ago.

Apparently, Germany doesn't get how software licensing works...

Well as long as Valve never said you could resell them I don't really care.

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

And you can't legally buy Left 4 Dead 2 uncut in Germany.

Magikarp:
Do they have any grounds to sue them? Is there any rule that says digital property has to be resellable?

Kind of.

http://www.joystiq.com/2012/07/03/eu-court-rules-its-legal-to-resell-digital-games-software/

Basically, if you you can find a way to re-sell digital goods, you're fine as long as the law is concerned. Though it doesn't say it's required that digital distributors allow it, just that if someone finds a way, there's nothing they can do about it. The one who does figure it out first, however, will most likely make quite a bit of money. Which makes me wonder why these digital distributors haven't set up a system for it already.

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

Doesn't quite fix the problem, since that physical PC game will either require Steam and tie it to one account, or some awful DRM "service" that's much worse.

captcha: Keep What's Yours

heh

You can make backup copies, but they should be able to keep those copies and sell the original.

Geniuses here folks. Geniuses.

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

Even with a physical copy, there are more than a few examples of where you crack the case open and just find a card with a serial code on it or a DVD/Cd with the setup for either steam/origin/uplay on it and you have to complete the download from their servers.

The days of getting something worthwhile in a physical copy purchase are long gone unless you want to pay a huge premium for a 'collector's edition'. The days of buying something like Ultima III (or any game from Origin in the 80's and 90's) and getting a series of manuals printed on decent paper, cloth map and some other knick knack are only fondly remembered by us old farts.

And for the record, I wouldn't mind the ability to sell a game from my steam library if given the chance.

I think the obvious solution is that people should be allowed to do whatever they want with their Steam games including selling them. But unless a consumer has a contract for said game with Valve by buying it from them, Valve is under no obligation whatsoever to support the game, provide access to authentication servers, or allow for downloading the game. Now try to make sense out of that and realize we're living in the 21st century and some old rules don't apply anymore.

Hitchmeister:
I think the obvious solution is that people should be allowed to do whatever they want with their Steam games including selling them.

'Anything they want'? Okay, here goes: I copy it. Then I 'sell' it to a friend for $0.01. Then I make another copy. And I sell that to another friend for $0.01. In fact, while I'm at it, why not just throw it up on my website and offer a 'donate what you want' system.

Is that okay? I mean, it's MY game! I paid for it! I should be allowed to do whatever I want for it.

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

Or it could be one of those hard copies that requires Steam and binds the key to your Steam account.

At any rate, meh, it won't go anywhere in the end and the german court will pass some order that will never be fulfilled.

DVS BSTrD:
Well as long as Valve never said you could resell them I don't really care.

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

And you can't legally buy Left 4 Dead 2 uncut in Germany.

Pfft because Nintendo of Europe is based in Germany you can't buy 18+ rated content on the eShop unless it's between 11pm and 3 am.

Falterfire:

Hitchmeister:
I think the obvious solution is that people should be allowed to do whatever they want with their Steam games including selling them.

'Anything they want'? Okay, here goes: I copy it. Then I 'sell' it to a friend for $0.01. Then I make another copy. And I sell that to another friend for $0.01. In fact, while I'm at it, why not just throw it up on my website and offer a 'donate what you want' system.

Is that okay? I mean, it's MY game! I paid for it! I should be allowed to do whatever I want for it.

You conveniently ignore the rest of my post where those 1 cent copies you're selling are worthless because they require Steam to download and authenticate and Valve is not required to provide that service. Without that, they're just bootleg copies and illegal under the DMCA.

Also, it seems clear that by "selling" something you own under this proposed German law, you give up ownership of it and don't simply make infinite copies of it. Which in the digital realm is more problematic than is being acknowledged. That's why I say they have to realize we're living in the 21st century now.

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

Wait, you are actually unhappy that there are consumer protection organizations that are trying to strengthen the rights of consumers towards companies and strengthen the ownership over products you buy?...

Are people seriously still stuggling with the concept of license?
I'm all for consumer's rights and everything, but what they're doing there is bullshit.

See, what they want to do is pretty much like a student being admited to harvard and then giving up and trying to sell his spot to one of his friends.
Games are not a product, they are a permission. They are a copyright owner's allowance for one to use THEIR (the copyright owner's) property.

You know, there's money to be made from this valve. Essentially levee a 50% transaction/transfer tax. Bzzam! Since the 'sale' is basically them shifting the Games ID from one table to another in their databases.

But seriously people need to figure that when you buy a digital game you are not really buying the game. You are buying unlimited access to a specific game in the steam library for as long as the Steam Library is able to legally provide access to the game. Read the Terms of Service.

This is the trade off with digital ownership. convenient, flexible buuuut sketchy. The second question is quite frankly, why would you want to resell it and who would buy it. It'll either create a case of people buying a ton of licenses when the game is on sale and then selling the games at cost+50% when the game goes back to full price. Which while fair does kinda hose the game makers. The end result would be devs gradually migrating to other distribution networks.

Here's the thing. Steam (and other similar distribution networks) save the buyers money because the game is usually:

* Cheaper than what they would find in stores,
* Instantly available (or at least downloadable)
* Not tied to a single device
* They do not have to deal with delivery or shipping costs.

They save the devs money because:

* It provides them an easily accessible marketplace.
* Allows fair exposure to potential customers
* Removes the cost of stamping, packaging and warehousing DVD's.

And it makes Valve Money because:

* Valve gets a share of all the sales.

This is a good system I think. Not perfect but at least the DRM isn't near as bad at what gets built into other games like say I dunno Diablo 3.

Actually I wondered why Valve won the first trial. Actually the german law (like nearly all laws) lack the real world that goes on. The german law states, that when you buy a "product" you can do whatever you want with that product.

To buy a game in a shop (Gamestop for instance) means you can sell that "product" again. Software license is misused in this usage when you sell it to an endconsumer.

Endconsumers have rights, even a license can be sold. Like the European Court ruled. So shops like Steam have to give the option to sell games, if its not completely unreasable and would cost millions to do so.

But Steam allready has the shop option, and it would be easy to put "games form your library" there, so it is not unreasonable buy any stretch of the imaganiation.

So you could say, that the XBox Store and the Sony platform, had to change their ways too. When Valve looses, they can all change theri system.

If you buy a Valve game in a store with a box and disk, or any game in a store that has Steam support, despite having the physical disk, it's impossible to resell it because Valve binds it to your steam account and forbids reselling.

So Valve actually already has that anti-used game DRM for phyiscal disks that everyones complaining at Sony for potentially having. This may/should be part of the German lawsuit

tangoprime:
Apparently, Germany doesn't get how software licensing works...

Germany is within the EU. The EU has made regulations declaring Digital Resale and rejecting the software licensing scheme.
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/07/03/eu-court-rules-its-legal-to-resell-digital-games-software/

You can't really say that a country doesn't 'understand' something like this, because its up to the country to decide what is and what isn't permissible. Just because someone tried to describe something as licensing doesn't mean the EU has to listen

Hitchmeister:
I think the obvious solution is that people should be allowed to do whatever they want with their Steam games including selling them. But unless a consumer has a contract for said game with Valve by buying it from them, Valve is under no obligation whatsoever to support the game, provide access to authentication servers, or allow for downloading the game. Now try to make sense out of that and realize we're living in the 21st century and some old rules don't apply anymore.

And that right there is at the core of the issue. We are buying our games over Steam with a bunch of services attached.

Now I personally dont want to be able to resell my games, because that means dropping them as services and I really like my services.

BigTuk:

But seriously people need to figure that when you buy a digital game you are not really buying the game. You are buying unlimited access to a specific game in the steam library for as long as the Steam Library is able to legally provide access to the game. Read the Terms of Service.

This is the trade off with digital ownership. convenient, flexible buuuut sketchy. The second question is quite frankly, why would you want to resell it and who would buy it. It'll either create a case of people buying a ton of licenses when the game is on sale and then selling the games at cost+50% when the game goes back to full price. Which while fair does kinda hose the game makers. The end result would be devs gradually migrating to other distribution networks.

This could be "unfair" treatment of endconsumers, wich it forbidden by law in germany. Cause there is no other way to activate certrain games. As the license could be labeled a product, the rules used for a product would be in progress, so they would have to make it possible. Otherwise Steam would have to make large payments as long as they don't change Steam.

balberoy:

BigTuk:

But seriously people need to figure that when you buy a digital game you are not really buying the game. You are buying unlimited access to a specific game in the steam library for as long as the Steam Library is able to legally provide access to the game. Read the Terms of Service.

This is the trade off with digital ownership. convenient, flexible buuuut sketchy. The second question is quite frankly, why would you want to resell it and who would buy it. It'll either create a case of people buying a ton of licenses when the game is on sale and then selling the games at cost+50% when the game goes back to full price. Which while fair does kinda hose the game makers. The end result would be devs gradually migrating to other distribution networks.

This could be "unfair" treatment of endconsumers, wich it forbidden by law in germany. Cause there is no other way to activate certrain games. As the license could be labeled a product, the rules used for a product would be in progress, so they would have to make it possible. Otherwise Steam would have to make large payments as long as they don't change Steam.

Hmm see your point though considering you more or less have to agree to such in the term of service when you purchase stuff off of Steam. While I'm no German Law student I think that trumps it. Steam isn't the only source for many of these games so in short, if the consumers actually have a problem with the terms... why are they using the service. Let them patronize any of the other services. It's like a bar or restaurant saying 'no shirt, no shoes, no service'. Doesn't matter if you already made paid reservations, if you cannot abide by the terms of service they do not have to provide service. The terms are stated up-front, you have to agree to such before you are allowed to make the transaction and again you are implicitly agreeing to the terms by making the transaction.

What I'm saying is that the consumers don't act like they'[re being mistreated (as Valve did say they have received no complaints). Though technically if you had a problem you wouldn't agree to the ToS and thus would not have bought on Steam. I'm getting the feeling this is a case lawyers arguing for the sake of getting paid to argue. It's not like their fees are determined by actually 'winning' after all. Your Tax Marks at work German People.

Oh good, when I saw the headline I thought it was something important.

I'm a bit meh on the whole thing. Considering on-disc DLC is allowed to happen, and companies can deny you the ability to play a single-player game if you are so unfortunate as to not have a consistent Internet connection, I think not being able to resell Steam games is a pretty minor problem at this point.

If its not in their terms of service that you can re sell them then how can they sue them? They agreed to the terms of service, if they don't agree with them, then don't agree with them, and use a different platform. I really don't get it ?

balberoy:

BigTuk:

But seriously people need to figure that when you buy a digital game you are not really buying the game. You are buying unlimited access to a specific game in the steam library for as long as the Steam Library is able to legally provide access to the game. Read the Terms of Service.

This is the trade off with digital ownership. convenient, flexible buuuut sketchy. The second question is quite frankly, why would you want to resell it and who would buy it. It'll either create a case of people buying a ton of licenses when the game is on sale and then selling the games at cost+50% when the game goes back to full price. Which while fair does kinda hose the game makers. The end result would be devs gradually migrating to other distribution networks.

This could be "unfair" treatment of endconsumers, wich it forbidden by law in germany. Cause there is no other way to activate certrain games. As the license could be labeled a product, the rules used for a product would be in progress, so they would have to make it possible. Otherwise Steam would have to make large payments as long as they don't change Steam.

If you read the steam Eula, it says all sales in the european union take place under UK law. This term was introduced to get round the German courts.

Very good. I remember the whole thing when they first threatened to sue if Valve didn't do anything. Glad to see they are following through. It's pretty damn faulty advertising when it says "purchase this game" when you basically get an indefinite rental and can't do with your purchase as you please because, well, it's not an actual purchase.

R.Nevermore:
I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

You know, I already do that as much as possible, but not only are a lot of games Steam exclusive, even tons of hard copies bought at the store require Steam activation and tying of a particular code to one's account. So, yeah. Fix this, Valve. Your anti-customer policies don't fly here. We actually value consumer protections.

Timmey:
If its not in their terms of service that you can re sell them then how can they sue them? They agreed to the terms of service, if they don't agree with them, then don't agree with them, and use a different platform. I really don't get it ?

If the terms of service that Valve tries to get people to agree to violate the rules, then those ToS and the agreements given are null and void.

Dexter111:

R.Nevermore:
If you don't like what steam has to offer....

SUE THEM!

I mean seriously, if you want a hard copy to do with it as you please, don't buy a licence, buy a hard copy from a brick and mortar shop.

EDIT: but even then, you'll have to deal with some even more draconian DRM...

Wait, you are actually unhappy that there are consumer protection organizations that are trying to strengthen the rights of consumers towards companies and strengthen the ownership over products you buy?...

Absolutely not! The more rights I has as a consumer the better... I just think they are fishing in the dark here and have no case. Games these days do not belong to us. We've moved on to a life ding system, and quite frankly I prefer it. Steam has done great things for the game industry. I don't think this group understands the difference here. The game does not belong to us. We merely bought the rights to use them on our accounts.

Like I said. I prefer it this way. I am not really up for game prices being driven further up because some asshat buys the new CoD game and resells it a thousand times for a fraction of the price because its 'within his rights'. Freedoms can be taken too far.

Falterfire:
I will laugh so very hard if the end result here is that Valve just stops selling games to German customers.

But seriously? Used digital games still make no !@#$%ing sense. Consumer rights are good and all, but used digital games are still nonsense.

If it was legal to resell a digital game, I could sell the same copy seventy three bajillion times using the magic of Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V.

Not really, you aren't selling the data, only the key. Take steam keys for example, it's tied to your account and only you can use it. If you could sell/transfer it to someone else the code would no longer be tied to the account and you'd be unable to use it.

Honestly now. I agree that we should be able to sell the games that we own, and buying from retail and having them say we own a license is a steaming pile.
But buying from Steam is ACTUALLY buying a license. You aren't buying a disk and then when you install it you find out that you can't give it away or sell it. You are quite obviously buying a non transferable license.
If you don't agree with this, which is understandable, don't use Steam, go buy it from a store.

Braedan:
If you don't agree with this, which is understandable, don't use Steam, go buy it from a store.

Do we need to repeat the point about store-bought games requiring Steam?

You aren't buying a disk and then when you install it you find out that you can't give it away or sell it. You are quite obviously buying a non transferable license.

That is exactly what is happening in a lot of cases. The moment you install a game and tie it to your account, you can't resell it even if you have a CD or DVD.
It's also not "quite obviously a non transferable license" since Steam actually advertises in a way that suggests you "purchase this game" rather than "purchase a non-transferable license".

Skeleon:

Braedan:
If you don't agree with this, which is understandable, don't use Steam, go buy it from a store.

Do we need to repeat the point about store-bought games requiring Steam?

I get that. I think that practice is pretty shitty, but doesn't it say that it requires Steam to play? Also, this is quite clearly a reason to get mad at the company that makes the game, not the company that distributes the game.

I love this thread!

EA uses DRM to slightly penalize used game sales = EA is the devil and is destroying video games
Valve uses DRM to completely negate used games sales = Rally the troops to Valve's defense!!!

That's just too funny.

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