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Court dismisses lawsuit against Valve over accounts, used games

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A German court dismissed The Federation of German Consumer Organizations' (VZVB) lawsuit that would have allowed Steam users to sell or trade their accounts and games, the multinational law firm Osborne Clarke reports.

The VZVB announced its plans to take Valve to court last year. It argued that purchases on Valve's digital distribution service constituted activity under the first-sale doctrine, which limits copyright holders' claims. It allows, for example, libraries to lend copyrighted materials like books and DVDs and consumers to resell copyrighted or trademarked products that they've purchased.

Eva Hoffschulte, a representative for VZVB, said last July that a successful outcome would "be really an improvement for consumers: then they can sell their games to others."

According to the Steam Subscriber agreement, users "may not sell or charge others for the right to use your Account, or otherwise transfer your Account, nor may you sell, charge others for the right to use, or transfer any Subscriptions other than if and as expressly permitted by this Agreement (including any Subscription Terms or Rules of Use)."

The Regional Court of Berlin has not yet explained the reasons underpinning its ruling, and the VZVB may be permitted to appeal, according to Osborne Clarke. The VZVB filed a similar suit in 2010, but the German Federal Court of Justice ruled that Valve's practices did not violate German law.

We've reached out to Valve for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.