updated 12:58 pm EDT, Tue July 3, 2012
Oracle, UsedSoft case returns to German Federal Court
Selling used software licenses is legal, according to the European Union Court of Justice. In a judgment published today, a preliminary ruling in a case between Oracle and UsedSoft saw the highest court in Europe side with the German reseller, declaring that software developers and distributors cannot step in and prevent license resale after the initial purchase from them.
UsedSoft buys licenses from Oracle customers for resale to others, who then download the software directly from Oracle's website. Proceedings were brought against UsedSoft in German courts, as Oracle sought a court order to ban resales. The Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice, Germany) escalated the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union for an interpretation of EU law.
The statement by the court explained that the previous holder of a license must make the software unusable, by uninstalling or deleting files, at the time of resale. If the number of installations under a license do not exceed what has been licensed, everything is legal. The original author of the software "cannot oppose the resale of his 'used' licenses allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet," and is therefore obliged to allow for the new user to download the software again. Sales of part of a license, such as splitting off a block of 10 users from a license allowing for 25 to someone else for use, is not permitted, as batched licenses cannot be divided between purchasing parties.
It is worth noting that the Court of Justice of the European Union did not make a judgment on the case itself, only explained the interpretation of European Union law, as the Court of Justice does not formally resolve disputes. The case now goes back to the Federal Court of Justice in Germany for it to decide the outcome, based on these findings. [via Slashdot]