If Used Software Can Be Sold, Why Not Used eBooks?

Court ruling: Used Software may be sold [Google Translate from the German]

Used software licenses may be sold in general. This applies even if the software has been purchased and downloaded from the Internet, as on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg decision is a victory for the German company UsedSoft, which is used with software, in a dispute with the U.S. company Oracle. With the sale of the software are the respective rights of the manufacturer of the copy is exhausted, the Luxembourg judges said to justify . It would not matter whether it is a CD-ROM or DVD, or is a “non-physical copy” from the Internet. Used software is used with licenses for software products from Oracle, among other things.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Well, that brings up the question of what exactly is “software”?

Is an eBook software? Like a computer program, it contains instructions — in the form of a markup language, CSS, and sometimes even JavaScript. Clearly something that is a “book app” is software. So it seems to me this ruling allows the resale of those.

Which brings up the issue of DRM. If I’m in Europe, buy a “book app” from the Apple App Store, and want to sell it after reading it, how does the DRM permit that?

Over in Europe, I think the lawyers of every publisher are having fits.

And Apple, Google, Amazon, and the rest of them have a new headache to deal with.



Filed under Digital Overthrow

3 responses to “If Used Software Can Be Sold, Why Not Used eBooks?

  1. Used software licenses have been sold for some time in practice if not theory. I don’t think that anyone really expected any other result. The big question is whether rights holders are obliged to facilitate transfers of ownership, which are very thorny where DRM is involved.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. As someone who reads a lot, I tend to purchase used physical copies to keep costs down, but also to later on sell them to make a little money back.

  3. I hope this happens. I bought a Kindle last year after 18 months of prevarication (the number of titles that I wanted that were Kindle-only had built up a kind of critical mass) but my biggest fear is that it will destroy the pass-it-on culture common among readers. Imagine the possibilities for e-book exchanges along the same lines as physical book exchanges that you find in countries where books in a particular language are expensive and highly-sought.

    I also think that Amazon overcharge for a lot of their books – their Kindle editions of the Lonely Planet series are, in many cases, more expensive than the physical copies. I know digital books attract VAT but the lowered cost of distribution should more than compensate for that.

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