Valve Triumphs Over German Consumer Group

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Valve Triumphs Over German Consumer Group

German Steam

A German court has dismissed the lawsuit filed against Valve by consumer rights group VZBV over its prohibition of the sale or transfer of Steam accounts and games.

Last summer, German consumer rights group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband [VZBV] renewed its campaign against the Steam terms of service, which disallows the sale or transfer of Steam accounts or games. It was the second time the group had taken a run at Valve and while it acknowledged at the time that it didn't expect the TOS to be changed voluntarily, it did say that it believed the odds of winning in court were "very good."

Alas, it was not to be. The Regional Court of Berlin has dismissed the case and while the specific reasons for the dismissal have not yet been published, Osborne Clarke reports that, based on comments made during oral arguments, the judges did not agree that the "doctrine of exhaustion," which limits a copyright or trademark holder's rights to control individual copies of work once they're sold - similar to the first-sale doctrine in North America - applies to intangible copies of video games. Because of that, Valve is within its rights to restrict the resale of Steam games and accounts.

The ruling initially appears to run counter to a prior ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which declared in 2012 that the doctrine of exhaustion does in fact apply to software. But the Court of Justice also ruled, in a more recent case, that the audiovisual components of video games means they are "not only computer software," and are thus covered by the European Community's general copyright directive rather than the more specific laws regarding computer software.

There may be room for another appeal, especially since another case dealing specifically with the copyright status of video games is currently before EU judges, but for now (and, very likely, the future) the sale and transfer of Steam accounts and games remains verboten. Score one for Valve.

Source: Osborne Clarke

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And german courts fuck up again! Looks like they are just as stupid in berlin as they are in köln.

Valve Triumphs Over German Consumer Group

Consumers suffer yet another loss as valve buys out consumer protection by using courts to protect their virtual monopoly.

Corrected that for you.

Edit: corrected myself

Good for valve, bad for us.
Peculiar choice of wording for the headline though.
I thought you were on our side.
Sensationalist and manipulative but kinda on our side.

You know, us, the consumers.
Your audience.

Let me shorten that title for you: Valve Triumphs Over Consumers

No surprise here, Germany is a prime location for copyright and license lawsuits for a reason...

But the Court of Justice also ruled, in a more recent case, that the audiovisual components of video games means they are "not only computer software," and are thus covered by the European Community's general copyright directive rather than the more specific laws regarding computer software.

Well if that is the reasoning behind siding with Big Money over consumers here, Valve is still in trouble, since they have begun selling generic software alongside games, covered by the same EULA.

God! Valve is SOOOOO EVIL! THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER!

Im fine with this, i have come to the understanding of when you buy a game on steam you buy it forever, but everyone cries fowl because you can't play a game on steam and get your money back once you are done, or resell the game to someone else.

For a company that claims to value the consumer, they sure seem to dislike the idea of us owning video games and doing things people normally do with things they own.

Y'know, like returning a game if it turns out to be shit, which is increasingly becoming the case with new releases on Steam, since the idea of quality control goes completely over their heads, or reselling or giving away a game once you've put enough time into it, which once you've played a game through several times is a pretty damn appealing option.

I am neutral with the outcome, but I fear for the future of us customers with Steam. I believe Steam needs better customer service. We customer still have fucking rights and I fear that Steam will not acknowledge them.

erbkaiser:

But the Court of Justice also ruled, in a more recent case, that the audiovisual components of video games means they are "not only computer software," and are thus covered by the European Community's general copyright directive rather than the more specific laws regarding computer software.

Well if that is the reasoning behind siding with Big Money over consumers here, Valve is still in trouble, since they have begun selling generic software alongside games, covered by the same EULA.

Nope, its rather simple. Steam is a service and the German courts have expected that fact. The clue is in the title, Terms of Service. VZBV never stood a chance of winning and it was just a cheap publicity stunt.

Dammit, Germany! You were our last hope!

Damn good thing Valve won. Or we might not see those sales anymore.

Do you see huge sales on console with the resale ability? Nooooooooo

Do you see huge sales on PC games that can't be resold? Yeeeeeees

We get huge sales because companies know the copy will only go to one person most of the time and not switch hand with 20 others.

FogHornG36:
God! Valve is SOOOOO EVIL! THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER!

Im fine with this, i have come to the understanding of when you buy a game on steam you buy it forever, but everyone cries fowl because you can't play a game on steam and get your money back once you are done, or resell the game to someone else.

That illustrates why this is a problem and a loss for consumers. You have come to an incorrect understanding because when you buy a game on steam you buy it for as long as Valve determines it is yours to access and they have the freedom to take it away or make any sort of unreasonable demands in exchange for your continued access of it at their leisure.

When consumers come to incorrect conclusions that result in incorrect outcomes that keep Steam as the 10 ton gorilla of gaming, with each little loss like this further damages the customer, and the structure of economics and all commerce. You've come to an understanding that not only hurts every consumer of digital content (game and non alike) but hurts you as well by first limiting your protection against corporate practices and again by giving them further tools to take even more protections away from you and every customer. Even if you dont care about being protected or not.

We get huge sales because companies know the copy will only go to one person most of the time and not switch hand with 20 others.

No, you get sales because Valve holds entirely too much industry clout and does not have to compete directly with anyone. They have the freedom to make any demands they like of consumers and developers alike. But most importantly you get sales (which valves prices are not good or competitive values at all when compared objectively) because the value of a non tradable infinitely revokable license that can be removed with or without reason invariably has less value than something that is owned and beyond such revocation. In short Valve HAS to keep their prices lower than things like physical equivlents because they know what they sell is only a shadow of what the actual product is.

Oh hey look it's that service that a certain group of people use and hold on their golden pedestal, triumphs over customers once again...

This is just sad when a company can still win using money over it's customers, seriously customers should have won this battle but once again it's proven that money and companies>their customers.

In short, fuck of Valve.

Weaver:
Dammit, Germany! You were our last hope!

Theres still the european court wich allready once ruled in favor of the consumer.

Have to say thought that im a bit indeceisive about all this.

At one hand the judge just strengthened the notion that games are "services" that we only sorta kinda "lease" instead of buy.

On the other hand this means that i dont have to worry about steam sales not being available for germany anymore.

In the long run thought i would rather actually own what i buy.. no matter how cheap steam can make some games.

Crud. A loss for consumers. We can only hope the appeal or other such lawsuits go better. Customer protections are hugely important, especially in regards to oligopolies such as Valve has one with Steam. They just walk all over us and our rights as customers because we don't really have that many options to choose from. Hell, a lot of games are even exclusive to Steam. I was really looking forward to a victory there, because such practices should not be allowed to continue. We don't own anything that we buy on Steam, they tell us. We are subscribing and our subscription can be cancelled, even without any refund or whatever. And reselling such a subscription is impossible. Messed up. And some people cheer about this?!

I'm somewhat in the middle on this.

On the one hand, I sort of wish that we could resell games that buy on Steam. Having a massive library of games and only caring about maybe 25% of them can get annoying to look at and realize I can't do anything with, even if I did enjoy them for the time being. It would at least be nice to get some store credit off the ones I don't want anymore.

However, I'm also wondering how in the world Valve can pull off allowing the reselling of games on Steam in such a way that manages to balance the wants of consumers and the needs of Valve and the developers and publishers allowing their games to be on Steam.

Shadow-Phoenix:
Oh hey look it's that service that a certain group of people use and hold on their golden pedestal, triumphs over customers once again...

This is just sad when a company can still win using money over it's customers, seriously customers should have won this battle but once again it's proven that money and companies>their customers.

In short, fuck of Valve.

Do you like Steam sales?

I don't give a dime about resales!

I'd rather see a rule passed that forces companies to keep their products updated for new OS-Iteration / Hardware as long as the copyright of the product exists.

It's disappointing that this failed, but I'm OK with it. I think it would be a lot harder to convince companies to sell their games as cheaply as Steam allows if a user could just resell it again when done with it. I'll take the 50%-90% off sales and watch my impulse buying over the right to resell the games.

Ya score one for Valve, they just got the "You don't own the shit you buy" steam train rolling in EU as well... great fucking victory right there.

BloodRed Pixel:
I'd rather see a rule passed that forces companies to keep their products updated for new OS-Iteration / Hardware as long as the copyright of the product exists.

That's not directly workable, but I could get behind expiring the copyright a few years after the copyright holder stops supporting the product.

Resales I could understand fighting for; selling accounts not so much. Refunds would be a great service on Steam ... It'd certainly be the beginning to curving the criticism going on about Steam's Early Access and Greenlight.

viranimus:

That illustrates why this is a problem and a loss for consumers. You have come to an incorrect understanding because when you buy a game on steam you buy it for as long as Valve determines it is yours to access and they have the freedom to take it away or make any sort of unreasonable demands in exchange for your continued access of it at their leisure.

When consumers come to incorrect conclusions that result in incorrect outcomes that keep Steam as the 10 ton gorilla of gaming, with each little loss like this further damages the customer, and the structure of economics and all commerce. You've come to an understanding that not only hurts every consumer of digital content (game and non alike) but hurts you as well by first limiting your protection against corporate practices and again by giving them further tools to take even more protections away from you and every customer. Even if you dont care about being protected or not.

You have demonstrated a false understanding of steam. You do not buy a games on steam you buy access to that game on the steam service. The clue is in the name Terms of Service. If you don't like the the terms then don't buy on steam. Whether you like it or not steam is service. This court case was never more than a cheap publicity stunt by failed SPD politician to raise his profile.

viranimus:

FogHornG36:
God! Valve is SOOOOO EVIL! THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER!

Im fine with this, i have come to the understanding of when you buy a game on steam you buy it forever, but everyone cries fowl because you can't play a game on steam and get your money back once you are done, or resell the game to someone else.

That illustrates why this is a problem and a loss for consumers. You have come to an incorrect understanding because when you buy a game on steam you buy it for as long as Valve determines it is yours to access and they have the freedom to take it away or make any sort of unreasonable demands in exchange for your continued access of it at their leisure.

When consumers come to incorrect conclusions that result in incorrect outcomes that keep Steam as the 10 ton gorilla of gaming, with each little loss like this further damages the customer, and the structure of economics and all commerce. You've come to an understanding that not only hurts every consumer of digital content (game and non alike) but hurts you as well by first limiting your protection against corporate practices and again by giving them further tools to take even more protections away from you and every customer. Even if you dont care about being protected or not.

We get huge sales because companies know the copy will only go to one person most of the time and not switch hand with 20 others.

No, you get sales because Valve holds entirely too much industry clout and does not have to compete directly with anyone. They have the freedom to make any demands they like of consumers and developers alike. But most importantly you get sales (which valves prices are not good or competitive values at all when compared objectively) because the value of a non tradable infinitely revokable license that can be removed with or without reason invariably has less value than something that is owned and beyond such revocation. In short Valve HAS to keep their prices lower than things like physical equivlents because they know what they sell is only a shadow of what the actual product is.

I agreed with you until the second part- Steam prices can go so low because there is little to no cost investment for each individual sale. Therefore, a deep discount can capitalize on sales that would not otherwise occur, netting extra dollars for little to no cost/sale.

Steam sales do go so low specifically because Steam does have competition. Good Old Games, Green Man Gaming, Humble Bundles, Amazon, piracy, and even Origin. None as big as Steam, but so it goes with offering a convenient, highly functional software before anyone else (see also: Google).

As far as the ruling itself- yes, we should be able to resale games that we should be purchasing. There are technical limitations to this problem, for sure- a whole multitude of them. Valve needs to get their ass working on this and stop stalling in court (where other rulings lead me to believe they will eventually lose).

The idea that games on steam are only so cheap because of the lack of resale is a dirty, demonstrably false lie. This feature (lack of resale) has not reduced game prices on, say, Origin. This feature has not increased game prices on, say, Amazon. It's a line of shit.

I honestly hope VZBV brings this up to a higher instance court, this is honestly not good. Alternatively, hope consumer groups in other EU members take it to the circles of legalese as well.

Heck, I've sent a few mails to our own national consumer protection group, but I guess I still need to spam them some more >.>

albino boo:

You have demonstrated a false understanding of steam. You do not buy a games on steam you buy access to that game on the steam service. The clue is in the name Terms of Service. If you don't like the the terms then don't buy on steam. Whether you like it or not steam is service. This court case was never more than a cheap publicity stunt by failed SPD politician to raise his profile.

You cannot seriously be asserting that people flock to steam for its service, and the games are just the benefits of said service.

I dont buy from steam. But Steam is NOT a service. They are a distributor. Pure and simple, Its in the name. Digital distribution. Regardless of the motivation of the politician backing it, it still does not mean this is not a loss for all consumers because it helps Steam try to turn products into services to shirk around things like first sale doctrine.

viranimus:

albino boo:

You have demonstrated a false understanding of steam. You do not buy a games on steam you buy access to that game on the steam service. The clue is in the name Terms of Service. If you don't like the the terms then don't buy on steam. Whether you like it or not steam is service. This court case was never more than a cheap publicity stunt by failed SPD politician to raise his profile.

You cannot seriously be asserting that people flock to steam for its service, and the games are just the benefits of said service.

I dont buy from steam. But Steam is NOT a service. They are a distributor. Pure and simple, Its in the name. Digital distribution. Regardless of the motivation of the politician backing it, it still does not mean this is not a loss for all consumers because it helps Steam try to turn products into services to shirk around things like first sale doctrine.

You are entitled to your opinion but the German courts disagree with your opinion and say it is a service. They are trained lawyers and with judicial power. To be blunt, what you think does not matter, what the judges think does. Steam is a service in law. You have failed to understand that this case was never going to be won but was away of gaining publicity for a former Mayor with ambitions to return to the front line of German politics.

albino boo:

viranimus:

albino boo:

You have demonstrated a false understanding of steam. You do not buy a games on steam you buy access to that game on the steam service. The clue is in the name Terms of Service. If you don't like the the terms then don't buy on steam. Whether you like it or not steam is service. This court case was never more than a cheap publicity stunt by failed SPD politician to raise his profile.

You cannot seriously be asserting that people flock to steam for its service, and the games are just the benefits of said service.

I dont buy from steam. But Steam is NOT a service. They are a distributor. Pure and simple, Its in the name. Digital distribution. Regardless of the motivation of the politician backing it, it still does not mean this is not a loss for all consumers because it helps Steam try to turn products into services to shirk around things like first sale doctrine.

You are entitled to your opinion but the German courts disagree with your opinion and say it is a service. They are trained lawyers and with judicial power. To be blunt, what you think does not matter, what the judges think does. Steam is a service in law. You have failed to understand that this case was never going to be won but was away of gaining publicity for a former Mayor with ambitions to return to the front line of German politics.

Yeah german courts are so good at there jobs.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131212/14232225551/redtube-smacks-down-german-copyright-troll-attempting-to-blackmail-its-viewers.shtml

viranimus:

albino boo:

You have demonstrated a false understanding of steam. You do not buy a games on steam you buy access to that game on the steam service. The clue is in the name Terms of Service. If you don't like the the terms then don't buy on steam. Whether you like it or not steam is service. This court case was never more than a cheap publicity stunt by failed SPD politician to raise his profile.

You cannot seriously be asserting that people flock to steam for its service, and the games are just the benefits of said service.

I dont buy from steam. But Steam is NOT a service. They are a distributor. Pure and simple, Its in the name. Digital distribution. Regardless of the motivation of the politician backing it, it still does not mean this is not a loss for all consumers because it helps Steam try to turn products into services to shirk around things like first sale doctrine.

I think he means that Steam offers a service whereby you can pay for unlimited access to a game. The way software is sold is that you purchase a license to use it, rather than purchasing the software itself. Otherwise there would be legally nothing to stop you from copying a video game disc a million times and selling the copies. If you own it, you can do whatever you like with it.

For what it's worth, this is also the way that other digital media such as films and stock images are sold. You buy a license to use it. You don't gain ownership of the content. A license can be a one-off payment, a subscription or even just in exchange for handing over your email address, but it always comes with terms of use. Generally speaking, licenses don't tend to be things you're allowed to "sell".

This was all a bit muddy whilst video games were entirely distributed on physical media. You absolutely own the plastic disc (and thus have a right to resell it) but you don't own the information on it, you've just bought a license to use it (under specified conditions). Bit of a mess for consumers to understand and difficult to game publishers to enforce anyway. But digital distribution (combined with most of the target market having internet access) means that publishers are now in a position to actually enforce one-license-one-user policies.

I'm personally fine with companies selling software using whatever type of license they can dream up, providing they make the terms clear to consumers (something I'm not sure Valve have done as well as they could). The company I work for sells software on the SaaS model (Software as a Service). We run the program on our own hardware and customers pay us a subscription fee.

TLDR: Selling software is not the same as selling cars.

Question: has anybody ever lost less net money from reselling a game than purchasing it at sale value on steam?

WashAran:
Yeah german courts are so good at there jobs.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131212/14232225551/redtube-smacks-down-german-copyright-troll-attempting-to-blackmail-its-viewers.shtml

Yeah, uh.

1. One faulty court case would not prove an entire country's legal system dysfunctional.

2. The article provided says nothing about German courts. At all. It's a German company sending out legal documents with the threat of lawsuit and offer of settlement. The whole point of this company's modus operandi is it relies on none of its victims being willing to go to court.

So, uh. What are you talking about, again?

This is just getting too much Steam's quality has declined drastically over the last decade and will probably contribute heavily to the next crash.

What have you done Valve to deserve such loyalty from fans and the industry. it's been over a decade since Steam was started and I don't think it's even fair to call Valve a games company anymore.

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