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French court rules that Steam’s ban on reselling used games is contrary to European law

Valve pledges to fight ruling

Palais de Justice in Paris, location of the High Court

A French high court this week delivered a blow to Valve, ruling that European consumers are legally free to resell digital games bought on Steam, just as they’re able to resell packaged, physical games.

The ruling was delivered by the High Court of Paris (Tribunal de grande instance de Paris) two days ago, according to a report on French games site Numerama. In a statement released today, Valve pledged to appeal the decision.

The court’s ruling is a victory for French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir, which filed a suit against Steam four years ago, alleging anti-consumer rights activities.

The court rejected Valve’s defense that argued Steam is a subscription service. According to Numerama, the court found that Steam sells games in perpetuity, and not as part of a subscription package.

The ban on reselling games is therefore counter to European Union laws on digital goods that are designed to block prohibitions on “the free movement of goods within the Union.” According to EU law, all goods, including software, can be sold used without the permission of the maker or the original seller.

The court clarified that any resale of the game must be of a single copy, and not of duplicates. According to the ruling, Valve has three months to amend its terms of service, though this is likely to be delayed during the appeal process.

“We disagree with the decision of the Paris Court of First Instance and will appeal it,” a Valve spokesperson told Polygon in an emailed statement. “The decision will have no effect on Steam while the case is on appeal.”

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