One of the most important judgments concerning the sale of used licenses was rendered by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in 2012.
The CJEU judgment in Case C-128/11 UsedSoft GmbH v Oracle International Corp. says that “An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet. The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence is exhausted on its first sale.”
This means that the sale of ‘used’ and redundant software licences is legal. This judgement created a safe, legal framework for the whole European Union ensuring a fair and healthy competition on the European market.
The judgment also states that:
- The unlimited software licences can be traded freely. If you purchase an independent software licence, you can sell it under the same conditions.
- The distribution rights of the producer are exhausted upon the first sale of the software. Customers who bought a computer program on a free market are entitled to use the purchased software.
- Even if the resale of software is specifically forbidden by the license agreement, the right holder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy. The license agreement is subject to the European Law and points which are in conflict with the European Law are void (this applies mainly to the ‘OEM software’).
- There is no difference between the manners of distribution. Software can be distributed by CD/DVD (physical licenses) or online (digital licenses). The right holder cannot demand an appropriate remuneration for further resale of the software licence because the appropriate remuneration was obtained during the first sale.