German Consumer Group Hopes To See Valve In Court This Year

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German Consumer Group Hopes To See Valve In Court This Year

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Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. doesn't think Valve will change its ToS.

A short while back German consumer rights advocacy group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. (VZBV) threatened to take Valve to court over its Terms of Service. Now, after a period of silence, VZBV has popped up on the radar again, this time to make a hopeful claim that Valve will see the inside of a German court room this year. "It is not realistic that Valve will change their policy," VZBV says, "But our chance to win the process is very good and that will be really an improvement for consumers." Valve has yet to comment on the situation, though presumably by now Valve's Doug Lombardi has actually seen the VZBV complaint.

The dispute is over the sale of used digital games. The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that such sales are legal regardless of the vendor's EULA, a development which spurred Valve into making a change to its Terms of Service, removing any possibility of a class action suit against it in the event of a customer dispute. That ToS change got VZBV involved when Valve stated that anyone who didn't want to sign up to the updated ToS would have their accounts deactivated, along with all games and content. From that time to this there's been silence, but VZBV's latest seems to indicate that silence is no longer an option for Valve.

While it's very unlikely we'll ever have to speculate, Mr Bridger-style, on what they have for dinner in German prisons, it will be interesting to see whether or not this dispute actually goes to court. Second hand digital sales will become a big deal in the not so distant future; cases like these will decide what that future looks like.

Source: Games On

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Hopefully people will actually read this article and not defend Valve just because they're Valve. It's about time that digital rights actually gave people some friggin rights. And I'm fairly certain that those EULAs that Steam and Origin and other such systems use are illegal in Europe anyway.

How to get people to sue you: tell them they can't.

Karloff:

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that such sales are legal regardless of the vendor's EULA, a development which spurred Valve into making a change to its Terms of Service, removing any possibility of a class action suit against it in the event of a customer dispute. That ToS change got VZBV involved when Valve stated that anyone who didn't want to sign up to the updated ToS would have their accounts deactivated, along with all games and content. From that time to this there's been silence, but VZBV's latest seems to indicate that silence is no longer an option for Valve.

Small but significant point class actions in are not legal in Germany except for stocks and shares. They have no chance of winning because the you can't make a class action case in Germany in the first place. The only reason why the ToS was changed was because the US supreme court said you could use a binding arbitration instead. This only applies to the US pretty much because its only the US that has class actions anyway.

Gearhead mk2:
Hopefully people will actually read this article and not defend Valve just because they're Valve. It's about time that digital rights actually gave people some friggin rights. And I'm fairly certain that those EULAs that Steam and Origin and other such systems use are illegal in Europe anyway.

Exactly. This bullshit with limited rights on digital content needs to go and Valve doesn't deserve any defense. Deactivating people's accounts and their games if they don't sign an agreement that didn't exist when they bought their games is ridiculous and the reason I don't get all my games digitally. Like it or not, we're not in control of the games we buy off Steam, Valve is. I don't know how much good this lawsuit will do because its not like Valve owns the licenses to the games it distributes but hopefully it'll push things in the right direction

albino boo:

Karloff:

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that such sales are legal regardless of the vendor's EULA, a development which spurred Valve into making a change to its Terms of Service, removing any possibility of a class action suit against it in the event of a customer dispute. That ToS change got VZBV involved when Valve stated that anyone who didn't want to sign up to the updated ToS would have their accounts deactivated, along with all games and content. From that time to this there's been silence, but VZBV's latest seems to indicate that silence is no longer an option for Valve.

Small but significant point class actions in are not legal in Germany except for stocks and shares. They have no chance of winning because the you can't make a class action case in Germany in the first place. The only reason why the ToS was changed was because the US supreme court said you could use a binding arbitration instead. This only applies to the US pretty much because its only the US that has class actions anyway.

Erm.. not really.

You are allowed to field a Sammelklage (gather sueing roughly translated) wich is similiar to a class action lawsuit with the difference that you cant sue for "the unknown person" meaning everyone who sues must be named.

You cant go to court and say "well i sue for all their customers" you must have names and the people attached to the names have to participate. Infact this most often happens against industry companies that damage the enviroment or otherwise negativly influence the live of alot of people, mining operations for example are notorious targets for Sammelklagen.

What Valve did was force you to accept that you cant team up with other customers to sue them.. that clause and the part where they take all your purchased goods hostage (wich are infact yours according to european law) is illegal in germany. If i remember correctly you cannot sign away your rights in germany either.

Also theres a good chance the Verbraucherzentrale does know their handywork and knows the german laws on the topic better then Valve.

so far so good, 5 posts in and no one has knee jerked a "Defend Valve" response, maybe people are learning to read before posting?

What change in ToS? I don't remember noticing one.

Alcom1:
What change in ToS? I don't remember noticing one.

That's probably the whole point.

OT: Yeah, one of Valve's more stupid things about them. It really needs to change.

Karadalis:

albino boo:

Karloff:

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that such sales are legal regardless of the vendor's EULA, a development which spurred Valve into making a change to its Terms of Service, removing any possibility of a class action suit against it in the event of a customer dispute. That ToS change got VZBV involved when Valve stated that anyone who didn't want to sign up to the updated ToS would have their accounts deactivated, along with all games and content. From that time to this there's been silence, but VZBV's latest seems to indicate that silence is no longer an option for Valve.

Small but significant point class actions in are not legal in Germany except for stocks and shares. They have no chance of winning because the you can't make a class action case in Germany in the first place. The only reason why the ToS was changed was because the US supreme court said you could use a binding arbitration instead. This only applies to the US pretty much because its only the US that has class actions anyway.

Erm.. not really.

You are allowed to field a Sammelklage (gather sueing roughly translated) wich is similiar to a class action lawsuit with the difference that you cant sue for "the unknown person" meaning everyone who sues must be named.

You cant go to court and say "well i sue for all their customers" you must have names and the people attached to the names have to participate. Infact this most often happens against industry companies that damage the enviroment or otherwise negativly influence the live of alot of people, mining operations for example are notorious targets for Sammelklagen.

What Valve did was force you to accept that you cant team up with other customers to sue them.. that clause and the part where they take all your purchased goods hostage (wich are infact yours according to european law) is illegal in germany. If i remember correctly you cannot sign away your rights in germany either.

Also theres a good chance the Verbraucherzentrale does know their handywork and knows the german laws on the topic better then Valve.

Form the steam TOS

11. APPLICABLE LAW/JURISDICTION

For Subscribers other than EU Subscribers:

You agree that this Agreement shall be deemed to have been made and executed in the State of Washington, U.S.A., and any dispute arising hereunder shall be resolved in accordance with the law of Washington. Subject to Section 12 (Dispute Resolution/Binding Arbitration/Class Action Waiver) below, you agree that any claim asserted in any legal proceeding by you against Valve shall be commenced and maintained exclusively in any state or federal court located in King County, Washington, having subject matter jurisdiction with respect to the dispute between the parties and you hereby consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts. In any dispute arising under this Agreement, the prevailing party will be entitled to attorneys' fees and expenses.

For EU Subscribers:

You agree that this Agreement shall be deemed to have been made and executed in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and that it is subject to the laws of Luxembourg, excluding the law of conflicts and the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). However, where the laws of Luxembourg provide a lower degree of consumer protection than the laws of your country of residence, the consumer protection laws of your country shall prevail. In any dispute arising under this Agreement, the prevailing party will be entitled to attorneys' fees and expenses.

in particular the line, which does not appear in the EU version

Subject to Section 12 (Dispute Resolution/Binding Arbitration/Class Action Waiver) below, you agree that any claim asserted in any legal proceeding by you against Valve shall be commenced and maintained exclusively in any state or federal court located in King County, Washington, having subject matter jurisdiction with respect to the dispute between the parties and you hereby consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts.

In other words the the binding arbitration DOES NOT apply in the EU. You can not sue a company for using a different term outside of the EU. As I said the in my original post the change in the ToS was because of ruling from the US supreme court and nothing, zero and not one iota to do with the EU court decision. Furthermore most jurisdictions allow mass actions whereby groups of named people join together to file a suit. A class action by definition is one where the all the plaintiffs are not named.

The only issue I take with this is how is used games resales going to be handled.

If we are selling it back to Valve. Our used license, then is it going to be priced when we got the sale (because let us be frank, no one really buys most their games any time other than the sales), or the normal price. The former is realistic, and would require quite a bit of effort on steam's part.

The Latter is not as realistic, because it would lead to people buying games during steam sales, and potentially costing valve more money getting more money back then they paid for it.

If it allows for people to trade games through steam, then Germany may see no steam sales at all in Germany, because I could see people taking advantage of the steam sales, say a group of friends buys X game, and they just trade it amongst themselves.

I get what the people want, they want digital rights, the right to trade their games, but I always traded my games amongst my friends because I could not afford the game for several years. Valve has made it so I can afford MOST of their games TWICE a year. If the Germans do win this, then it will take a ton of work to get it fair and balanced for Valve and the consumer. It is clear to me however that steam sales could very well be a victim of getting more rights. The question you have to ask yourself is, "Is it worth paying 60 dollars for a game I can trade with my friends/resell to other people", as opposed to "I can get a 60 dollar game for 15-30 dollars that I cannot trade/resell."

I hope the Germans come out on top of this one! It would be a windfall for the rest of the world against US corporate bullying.

All digital products are considered services. They are not products such as a phone or a retail game. A service cannot be refunded, returned or exchanged for something else once it has been provided. EU even forced Denmark to change the rules to the above mentionend, and unless EU changes it once more, then Valve won't be going to any court.

VZBV is not exactly a heavy weight, more like a mild annoyance to the german industry. As long as there is no political intrest Valve should be save.

Used Digital still makes no sense. Lending does, but used digital in the same sense that Gamestop sells used physical? "Oh, this copy is cheaper *cough* and we get 100% instead of 30% *cough* because the bits are slightly scuffed due to a previous owner. The H in the CD-Key is also slightly scratched and the cover of the digital manual is missing."

Good, distribution sites have been snuffing out user right left and right completely unopposed, on the brink of going fully digital this shit needs to be put in check.

I don't see why Valve can't just add games to their internal digital marketplace and charge users the same 30% fee that they charge developers.

Okay, that's not true, I can see lots of minor problems with this, but none that I think are insurmountable.

Falterfire:
Used Digital still makes no sense. Lending does, but used digital in the same sense that Gamestop sells used physical? "Oh, this copy is cheaper *cough* and we get 100% instead of 30% *cough* because the bits are slightly scuffed due to a previous owner. The H in the CD-Key is also slightly scratched and the cover of the digital manual is missing."

Why don't you go sell Diablo 2 for full price, then come back and explain how digital content's value doesn't depreciate. It does make sense, and yet fools will still argue it as if developers are somehow entitled to the special market where they get to sell everything twice.

Falterfire:
Used Digital still makes no sense. Lending does, but used digital in the same sense that Gamestop sells used physical? "Oh, this copy is cheaper *cough* and we get 100% instead of 30% *cough* because the bits are slightly scuffed due to a previous owner. The H in the CD-Key is also slightly scratched and the cover of the digital manual is missing."

This.

Everyone keeps saying that reselling digital games is a right, but allowing it could very easily disembowel Valve. That's why you buy licenses, not products.

Richard Allen:

Falterfire:
Used Digital still makes no sense. Lending does, but used digital in the same sense that Gamestop sells used physical? "Oh, this copy is cheaper *cough* and we get 100% instead of 30% *cough* because the bits are slightly scuffed due to a previous owner. The H in the CD-Key is also slightly scratched and the cover of the digital manual is missing."

Why don't you go sell Diablo 2 for full price, then come back and explain how digital content's value doesn't depreciate. It does make sense, and yet fools will still argue it as if developers are somehow entitled to the special market where they get to sell everything twice.

Except I cannot go resell my Diablo 2 copy, especially not at full price. No one would buy it at full price. Blizzard still sells their Diablo 2 online, for 10 dollars. PC Gamers have not been able to resell their games to retailers for a long time, to other people sure.

But honestly, the major point towards reselling is that I can get a cheaper than full price copy from someone else. But for steam, you don't need that thanks to their Steam Sales. There is no good arguement towards selling things to other people on steam, other than not having to wait until Winter/summer.

In which case. Suddenly you will see a influx of people buying games in the Summer/Winter. Then selling their extra copies at a higher price but still discounted from current price, to people between Summer and Winter. And yea.. Steam isn't going to do that. So as I said Earlier, if Germany decides people can resell their games from steam to other people, Germany will probably not be seeing many or any sales from Steam at all. Or Steam just moving away from Germany all together.

I don't have an opinion on used games sales, but I do have a strong opinion on the availability of my purchases being subject to the whims of a third party.

Any and all action that points at digital stores using denial of access to purchases to strong-arm users is positive. In my opinion, the digital marketplace won't really become universal until consumers have the certainty that they own what they buy.

Would be nice if Germany won this one. No matter if you support Steam sales or not, I think everyone can agree using EULAs and ToSs to bypass local laws are a bad thing.

Cecilo:

Richard Allen:

Falterfire:
Used Digital still makes no sense. Lending does, but used digital in the same sense that Gamestop sells used physical? "Oh, this copy is cheaper *cough* and we get 100% instead of 30% *cough* because the bits are slightly scuffed due to a previous owner. The H in the CD-Key is also slightly scratched and the cover of the digital manual is missing."

Why don't you go sell Diablo 2 for full price, then come back and explain how digital content's value doesn't depreciate. It does make sense, and yet fools will still argue it as if developers are somehow entitled to the special market where they get to sell everything twice.

Except I cannot go resell my Diablo 2 copy, especially not at full price. No one would buy it at full price. Blizzard still sells their Diablo 2 online, for 10 dollars. PC Gamers have not been able to resell their games to retailers for a long time, to other people sure.

But honestly, the major point towards reselling is that I can get a cheaper than full price copy from someone else. But for steam, you don't need that thanks to their Steam Sales. There is no good arguement towards selling things to other people on steam, other than not having to wait until Winter/summer.

In which case. Suddenly you will see a influx of people buying games in the Summer/Winter. Then selling their extra copies at a higher price but still discounted from current price, to people between Summer and Winter. And yea.. Steam isn't going to do that. So as I said Earlier, if Germany decides people can resell their games from steam to other people, Germany will probably not be seeing many or any sales from Steam at all. Or Steam just moving away from Germany all together.

So your entire point for not reselling digital is that steam won't make enough money. Got it now. Maybe you should put "doesn't' make sense for [insert corporate entity here]", because digital sales certainly make sense from a customer point of view. The only reason they are allowed to do this is because of bull crap eula/ licensing laws, which lawsuits like this aim to get rid of.

I'm sorry I don't buy the we don't make enough money argument when screwing me over.

Remember that this case isn't really about used digital games, it is about the fact customers lose access to their already purchased games if they don't accept updated TOS/EULAs, which is very likely illegal in Germany (and the rest of the EU).

God.. i bought my games at 75% to 90% discounts on steam... wtf tryin to resell them seems like fckn fraud at this point....

Oder wie wir deutschen sagen:
"Was fürn bockmist ist das denn schon wieder?"

Well you know what they say about messing with the bull. Sure steam has gamers by the balls as far as who owns what, but they haven't really done much to throw it in gamers' faces. They are also working torwards giving gamers more freedom with their downloads as far as sharing with friends. They just released these stupid little cards you get for playing games which you can collect for rewards or sell to the public for a few cents here or there. I'm not exactly trying to defend valve, but if you start trying to wrestle more from them they can just as easily shut off their service, or at the very least stop selling me $40 games for $5 twice a year. So far they have been leaning torwards more leniency, not stricter guidelines, at the same time it seems like you have to go out of your way to TRY and get your service locked before it happens.

I like valve and their sales, but I'm kind of on the side of the German consumer group...Right now they're the benevolent dictator of digital distribution, but as soon as Gabe or someone jumps ship or retires it might turn into a shitstorm.

Cecilo:

Richard Allen:

Falterfire:
Used Digital still makes no sense. Lending does, but used digital in the same sense that Gamestop sells used physical? "Oh, this copy is cheaper *cough* and we get 100% instead of 30% *cough* because the bits are slightly scuffed due to a previous owner. The H in the CD-Key is also slightly scratched and the cover of the digital manual is missing."

Why don't you go sell Diablo 2 for full price, then come back and explain how digital content's value doesn't depreciate. It does make sense, and yet fools will still argue it as if developers are somehow entitled to the special market where they get to sell everything twice.

Except I cannot go resell my Diablo 2 copy, especially not at full price. No one would buy it at full price. Blizzard still sells their Diablo 2 online, for 10 dollars. PC Gamers have not been able to resell their games to retailers for a long time, to other people sure.

But honestly, the major point towards reselling is that I can get a cheaper than full price copy from someone else. But for steam, you don't need that thanks to their Steam Sales. There is no good arguement towards selling things to other people on steam, other than not having to wait until Winter/summer.

In which case. Suddenly you will see a influx of people buying games in the Summer/Winter. Then selling their extra copies at a higher price but still discounted from current price, to people between Summer and Winter. And yea.. Steam isn't going to do that. So as I said Earlier, if Germany decides people can resell their games from steam to other people, Germany will probably not be seeing many or any sales from Steam at all. Or Steam just moving away from Germany all together.

It won't be just Germany. It will be the whole of Europe most likely due to how European Law operates. Also I seriously doubt that Valve will cut out the entirety of Europe from their business model to give back a right that we have had since the dawn of commerce

hawkeye52:

Cecilo:

Richard Allen:

Why don't you go sell Diablo 2 for full price, then come back and explain how digital content's value doesn't depreciate. It does make sense, and yet fools will still argue it as if developers are somehow entitled to the special market where they get to sell everything twice.

Except I cannot go resell my Diablo 2 copy, especially not at full price. No one would buy it at full price. Blizzard still sells their Diablo 2 online, for 10 dollars. PC Gamers have not been able to resell their games to retailers for a long time, to other people sure.

But honestly, the major point towards reselling is that I can get a cheaper than full price copy from someone else. But for steam, you don't need that thanks to their Steam Sales. There is no good arguement towards selling things to other people on steam, other than not having to wait until Winter/summer.

In which case. Suddenly you will see a influx of people buying games in the Summer/Winter. Then selling their extra copies at a higher price but still discounted from current price, to people between Summer and Winter. And yea.. Steam isn't going to do that. So as I said Earlier, if Germany decides people can resell their games from steam to other people, Germany will probably not be seeing many or any sales from Steam at all. Or Steam just moving away from Germany all together.

It won't be just Germany. It will be the whole of Europe most likely due to how European Law operates. Also I seriously doubt that Valve will cut out the entirety of Europe from their business model to give back a right that we have had since the dawn of commerce

(European in favor of this Consumer Group here) They will not cut out Europe, but they could be forced to remove the massive sales for Europeans. Or force the Europeans to trade for a certain percentage below the amount they bought it for on sale. Otherwise it would kill Valves profits in Europe.

Cecilo:
This could suck for Valve's business in germany

This would affect all of Europe mate, no way it would not.

Cecilo:
The only issue I take with this is how is used games resales going to be handled.

If we are selling it back to Valve. Our used license, then is it going to be priced when we got the sale (because let us be frank, no one really buys most their games any time other than the sales), or the normal price. The former is realistic, and would require quite a bit of effort on steam's part.

The Latter is not as realistic, because it would lead to people buying games during steam sales, and potentially costing valve more money getting more money back then they paid for it.

If it allows for people to trade games through steam, then Germany may see no steam sales at all in Germany, because I could see people taking advantage of the steam sales, say a group of friends buys X game, and they just trade it amongst themselves.

I get what the people want, they want digital rights, the right to trade their games, but I always traded my games amongst my friends because I could not afford the game for several years. Valve has made it so I can afford MOST of their games TWICE a year. If the Germans do win this, then it will take a ton of work to get it fair and balanced for Valve and the consumer. It is clear to me however that steam sales could very well be a victim of getting more rights. The question you have to ask yourself is, "Is it worth paying 60 dollars for a game I can trade with my friends/resell to other people", as opposed to "I can get a 60 dollar game for 15-30 dollars that I cannot trade/resell."

Auction house style?

I mean that would be the most obvious solution that doesnt have steam dictate a price and still have steam benefit from it by taking some auction fees?

well, given how well valve has adapted to pleasing its customers, chances are good they are working on something that would full fill the spirit of resell (aka ownership changes from one to another) while still being something they can squeeze a net win from.

The reselling of digital products simply makes no sense.

Reselling, trading, and all other forms of swapping, only work because, when those things were created, all products they dealt with were physical, and thus could decay, and wear down, making it to where people HAD to eventually go out and buy new versions of the product, and thus prevent infinite trading, which would destroy any and all product makers because they wouldn't be able to sell enough of their product in order to recoup initial expenses, and make a profit to spend on making more products.

Digital products however don't wear down, unless you slap some artificial decay mechanism on them, like digital books did, which people screamed bloody murder about being unfair, despite it being TOTALLY fair. So trading digital products simply isn't feasible because it would mean only one person had to buy a product ever, and then they could just trade forever with other people, and no company can survive like that.

Not being able to trade digital products is a result of them NOT being physical products, and not having the same flaws as physical products, which means they shouldn't be treated the same. You get a product that lasts forever, but at the same time can't be resold, that's the trade off, that's the balancing factor that makes digital products on the same level of fairness as physical products.

How much more likely is it that Valve will just block German users from buying stuff on steam? Since they are you know the country that's complaining. Seriously, this is digital people. There was a bit of a trade off when you opted for digital media as opposed to physical media.

Cheaper price (due to lower production costs)
Always available (since quantities are relatively infinite)
Ability to install or uninstall freely.
No Disk swapping.

Trade off:

Inability to resell

Seriously it's a trade off people. You can't have it both ways, because we all know that the first thing people will do is find a way to cheat it... it'll also make it that much worse if your account gets hacked, or borrowed by your flatmate.

I mean for christ sakes when you buy a game for 2.99 US you can't really sell it much cheaper than that.

This is clearly a case of the Old Ways vs. the New Ways.

In terms of how we've understood the concept since its inception, there's no such thing as a used digital game. The whole point of a "used product" is that it has depreciated in value, and therefore it's not the "same" product that was purchased initially.

A licensed digital copy of a game is not the same kind of "product" as anything else that gets sold "used", so the old rules do not apply. Your purchase of the game license does not affect its value or depreciate it. I don't see why this is such a big deal.

Nikolaz72:

hawkeye52:

Cecilo:

Except I cannot go resell my Diablo 2 copy, especially not at full price. No one would buy it at full price. Blizzard still sells their Diablo 2 online, for 10 dollars. PC Gamers have not been able to resell their games to retailers for a long time, to other people sure.

But honestly, the major point towards reselling is that I can get a cheaper than full price copy from someone else. But for steam, you don't need that thanks to their Steam Sales. There is no good arguement towards selling things to other people on steam, other than not having to wait until Winter/summer.

In which case. Suddenly you will see a influx of people buying games in the Summer/Winter. Then selling their extra copies at a higher price but still discounted from current price, to people between Summer and Winter. And yea.. Steam isn't going to do that. So as I said Earlier, if Germany decides people can resell their games from steam to other people, Germany will probably not be seeing many or any sales from Steam at all. Or Steam just moving away from Germany all together.

It won't be just Germany. It will be the whole of Europe most likely due to how European Law operates. Also I seriously doubt that Valve will cut out the entirety of Europe from their business model to give back a right that we have had since the dawn of commerce

(European in favor of this Consumer Group here) They will not cut out Europe, but they could be forced to remove the massive sales for Europeans. Or force the Europeans to trade for a certain percentage below the amount they bought it for on sale. Otherwise it would kill Valves profits in Europe.

Cecilo:
This could suck for Valve's business in germany

This would affect all of Europe mate, no way it would not.

EDIT:Fuck me quoted the wrong person originally

Tbh. I wouldn't be that bothered by the disappearence of steam sales. I much prefer the idea of trading games. I also understand the ramifications of that they might raise prices but the ability to trade games and refund games is much more valuable then any steam sale imo.

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