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View Full Version : European Union citizens can't be prevented from reselling EBOOKS



Maxinquaye
08-20-2012, 10:02 PM
I tried to search for this but my google fu is apparently missing, or this has not been covered here.

There was a ruling earlier this year about computer games in the highest EU court, the Court of Justice in the European Union that said this:



"Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy - tangible or intangible - and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the licence prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy."

Full ruling here: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2012-07/cp120094en.pdf

This ruling was specifically about computer games, but the language of the ruling seem to suggest any type of copyrightable material that is distributed digitally - including books - can be resold.

In essence, any EULA that tries to restrict an end user from reselling his digitally purchased ebook, is invalid. The court ruled that the copyright holder's rights to exclusive redistribution ended with the sale.

What do you think of this? Did it rescue second hand book shops from the push toward EULA licensing, rather than outright ownership, of ebooks in the European Union?

thothguard51
08-21-2012, 03:38 AM
Not to make this thread about the evil Amazon...

But if I am not mistaken, with Amazon's sales agreement, they are only granting a limited right to the readers. They maintain the right to the code or some such thingy. I believe they also reserve the right to take back the product for various specified and unspecified reasons. And they have done so in the past, though not with any great frequency...

So it appears Amazon can take back what Amazon givith.

Maxinquaye
08-21-2012, 03:51 AM
Not to make this thread about the evil Amazon...

But if I am not mistaken, with Amazon's sales agreement, they are only granting a limited right to the readers. They maintain the right to the code or some such thingy. I believe they also reserve the right to take back the product for various specified and unspecified reasons. And they have done so in the past, though not with any great frequency...

So it appears Amazon can take back what Amazon givith.

That is not legal within the EU, according to the ruling, so anything that's sold by any entity to an EU citizen can be resold. Signing EULAs doesn't matter because you can't sign away your rights. Granted, Amazon doesn't have to facilitate the resale, but it can't stop it, and it can't act against third parties that do facilitate resale.

The only way to be sure is to close the EU branches of Amazon and sell exclusively to Americans.

WildScribe
08-21-2012, 04:03 AM
Interesting. I'm really curious to see where this goes, but it could mean great news to ebook readers who wish for the right of resale.

M.Macabre
08-21-2012, 06:03 AM
Probably a dumb question: how can one distinguish between reselling/pirating?

Alitriona
08-21-2012, 06:13 AM
I was talking about this with my brother. I could be talking complete rubbish but isn't this for stuff that comes with codes. For example, you buy a license for word and you get a code, each code can only be used once, one license available. So, as I live in Ireland, I can sell the code on to another person, but I will no longer have use of it.

I don't know how that can work for ebooks where the seller will retain a working copy of the item while selling on a second fully working copy. I thought this judgement only cover cases where(like a print book) only one working copy from the original seller is in existence.

Ryan651
08-21-2012, 06:20 AM
Probably a dumb question: how can one distinguish between reselling/pirating?
To resell is to sell your license to that one particular item, your not entitled to copy and create a new license and give it to someone (copyright infringement).

As to the ruling, more or less pointless. While amazon can't infringe your rights regardless of what you sign, they still aren't under any obligation to provide a platform for you to resell your copy.
That being said it's still good to have the idea reinforced rather than ignored due to practicality, no one can tell what the future holds after all.

Priene
08-21-2012, 06:48 PM
As to the ruling, more or less pointless. While amazon can't infringe your rights regardless of what you sign, they still aren't under any obligation to provide a platform for you to resell your copy

There's nothing -- other than the technology challenge in getting the software uploaded and working on buyers' devices -- to stop a third party from collecting and reselling licenses to games, books and anything else, presumably at a discount.

Cyia
08-21-2012, 07:21 PM
That is not legal within the EU, according to the ruling, so anything that's sold by any entity to an EU citizen can be resold.


Except that Amazon sales aren't "sales" of a product. They're sales of permission for a single reader to use the product. (They're more like rentals, even though the button says "buy".)

Amazon retains ownership of the file, so ownership never passes to the buyer in the first place. It's more like buying a ticket to an amusement park, going inside and handing your pass back over the turnstile for someone else to use. You aren't allowed to do that because the pass only gives you permission to enter; you don't own anything, so you can't pass it along.

Maxinquaye
08-21-2012, 08:29 PM
Except that Amazon sales aren't "sales" of a product. They're sales of permission for a single reader to use the product. (They're more like rentals, even though the button says "buy".)

Amazon retains ownership of the file, so ownership never passes to the buyer in the first place. It's more like buying a ticket to an amusement park, going inside and handing your pass back over the turnstile for someone else to use. You aren't allowed to do that because the pass only gives you permission to enter; you don't own anything, so you can't pass it along.

That's the whole point of the ruling.

That is not legal. Even if you sign such an agreement with Amazon, it is invalid. You can still do whatever with your digitally downloaded file. You can sell it, provided you destroy your own copy. You can happily sign anything to get your copy, but once the purcahse has been made, those points will not be recognised in a court here. Amazon can't sue someone for breach of contract because those points in the contract were invalid to begin with.

kuwisdelu
08-21-2012, 08:37 PM
I was talking about this with my brother. I could be talking complete rubbish but isn't this for stuff that comes with codes. For example, you buy a license for word and you get a code, each code can only be used once, one license available. So, as I live in Ireland, I can sell the code on to another person, but I will no longer have use of it.

I don't know how that can work for ebooks where the seller will retain a working copy of the item while selling on a second fully working copy. I thought this judgement only cover cases where(like a print book) only one working copy from the original seller is in existence.

It shouldn't matter what method, if any, is used to validate that you own a license for your copy.

thothguard51
08-21-2012, 08:37 PM
Cyai,

Your comment is exactly what I remember from reading articles and discussions around the web.

kuwisdelu
08-21-2012, 08:40 PM
That's the whole point of the ruling.

That is not legal. Even if you sign such an agreement with Amazon, it is invalid. You can still do whatever with your digitally downloaded file. You can sell it, provided you destroy your own copy. You can happily sign anything to get your copy, but once the purcahse has been made, those points will not be recognised in a court here. Amazon can't sue someone for breach of contract because those points in the contract were invalid to begin with.

Has the EU gone after Amazon for this practice already?

I'm mostly familiar with Amazon US where our laws aren't so reasonable.

James D. Macdonald
08-21-2012, 09:40 PM
When I sell X to you, you have X, and I no longer have X.

I can see this working for those cases where the game/book/movie is in a physical medium (like a CD). I can't see it working for a purely digital copy.

thothguard51
08-21-2012, 09:54 PM
I think that is the difference, physical copy vs digital copy.

If the EU ruling on this means any copy, I wonder how that will affect Microsoft. You can buy Windows on disc and download it onto your computer. But you can not then resell it because the security code is only good for the person who registers first.

Alitriona
08-21-2012, 09:54 PM
It shouldn't matter what method, if any, is used to validate that you own a license for your copy.

It shouldn't, if there is a means of preventing people making duplicates for non personal use. At the moment, there doesn't seem to be an effective one.

I suspect certain individuals will jump on this as a means to excuse piracy, which is entirely different to one person selling one legitimate copy to one other person. I have no issue with legitimate resale, if the seller can no longer access the file. I would have an issue with anyone claiming this ruling gives them free reign to buy one copy and sell it on a hundred or a thousand times.

Tirjasdyn
08-21-2012, 10:44 PM
ergh...as someone who would not have access to many books without second hand sources as a child...I think you should be able to resell, give away, or donate an ebook just like you can a paper book. Once you do it's gone, of course.

As far as the ruling goes...making a rule, and enforcing it are two very separate things.

Priene
08-21-2012, 10:59 PM
Except that Amazon sales aren't "sales" of a product. They're sales of permission for a single reader to use the product. (They're more like rentals, even though the button says "buy".)


In the EU, you cannot forgo your statutory rights. Amazon can claim what they want, but the EU court has ruled that if they sell you a license which is not time-bound, then you own it and they have no right to prevent you reselling it. If that was in the original contract, it's been declared non-binding.


When I sell X to you, you have X, and I no longer have X.

I can see this working for those cases where the game/book/movie is in a physical medium (like a CD). I can't see it working for a purely digital copy.

The original case was about Oracle, which can be downloaded without any physical format.

Xelebes
08-21-2012, 11:32 PM
The ruling makes sense if you sell off your e-reader (computer, laptop, mp3 player) with the books on it.

Priene
08-21-2012, 11:46 PM
The ruling makes sense if you sell off your e-reader (computer, laptop, mp3 player) with the books on it.

It's specifically about cases where no hardware is involved. If hardware was involved, there wouldn't have been any need for a court case at all.

Hardware can be sold by its owner to anyone they like. It's now been shown that the same applies to software, no matter what a user license may say.

James D. Macdonald
08-22-2012, 12:33 AM
The original case was about Oracle, which can be downloaded without any physical format.

Then they made a foolish decision which should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Cyia
08-22-2012, 12:37 AM
That's the whole point of the ruling.

That is not legal. Even if you sign such an agreement with Amazon, it is invalid. You can still do whatever with your digitally downloaded file. You can sell it, provided you destroy your own copy. You can happily sign anything to get your copy, but once the purcahse has been made, those points will not be recognised in a court here. Amazon can't sue someone for breach of contract because those points in the contract were invalid to begin with.

The bolded part, I missed. If you can only pass along the file once you're done with it, then it's no different then passing along a used copy of a physical novel.

mscelina
08-22-2012, 12:48 AM
It shouldn't matter what method, if any, is used to validate that you own a license for your copy.

You're right, because distributing an ebook to other people once you've bought it is e-piracy and theft.


Has the EU gone after Amazon for this practice already?

I'm mostly familiar with Amazon US where our laws aren't so reasonable.

You mean the laws against committing a crime? Those seem pretty reasonable to me. Otherwise, I'm coming to your house to steal your car. And your hair gel. I'm out.


When I sell X to you, you have X, and I no longer have X.

I can see this working for those cases where the game/book/movie is in a physical medium (like a CD). I can't see it working for a purely digital copy.

That is something that even crabby e-publishers like me would agree with.


It shouldn't, if there is a means of preventing people making duplicates for non personal use. At the moment, there doesn't seem to be an effective one.

I suspect certain individuals will jump on this as a means to excuse piracy, which is entirely different to one person selling one legitimate copy to one other person. I have no issue with legitimate resale, if the seller can no longer access the file. I would have an issue with anyone claiming this ruling gives them free reign to buy one copy and sell it on a hundred or a thousand times.

*coughalreadyhappenedinthisthreadcough*


ergh...as someone who would not have access to many books without second hand sources as a child...I think you should be able to resell, give away, or donate an ebook just like you can a paper book. Once you do it's gone, of course.

As far as the ruling goes...making a rule, and enforcing it are two very separate things.

Then you are allowed to resell music files? How about manuscripts? What's the difference between a manuscript file and an ebook file? What about art files? What if you keep them?


The ruling makes sense if you sell off your e-reader (computer, laptop, mp3 player) with the books on it.

That works.


Then they made a foolish decision which should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Agreed.

Priene
08-22-2012, 11:09 AM
Then they made a foolish decision which should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Whether you feel contempt for the law is irrelevant, and you are of course at liberty to campaign to change it (assuming you're an EU citizen). If vendors treat the law with contempt by breaking it, they'll presumably be brought to justice. Knowing the EU justice system, this could take some time, but it probably will happen eventually.

kuwisdelu
08-22-2012, 04:44 PM
You're right, because distributing an ebook to other people once you've bought it is e-piracy and theft.

Did you even read the thread?

Selling your license to someone else, giving them your digital copy, and destroying your own does not even resemble e-piracy or theft.


You mean the laws against committing a crime? Those seem pretty reasonable to me. Otherwise, I'm coming to your house to steal your car. And your hair gel. I'm out.

Uhh, it's more like my offering to sell you my car, you coming and giving me money for it, and leaving with my car.

Which the EU, at least, has decided is reasonable and legal regardless of whether it's a physical or digital car.

Next time, you should probably read and understand the thread before you comment.


*coughalreadyhappenedinthisthreadcough*

*coughyourblindersaretoostrong*

Evan Henry
08-24-2012, 02:25 PM
Did you even read the thread?

Selling your license to someone else, giving them your digital copy, and destroying your own does not even resemble e-piracy or theft.



Uhh, it's more like my offering to sell you my car, you coming and giving me money for it, and leaving with my car.

Which the EU, at least, has decided is reasonable and legal regardless of whether it's a physical or digital car.

Next time, you should probably read and understand the thread before you comment.



*coughyourblindersaretoostrong*
^This.

Rhoda Nightingale
08-24-2012, 03:02 PM
Um. Admittedly I'm not tech-savvy at all, but I'm trying to work out how it's even plausible for someone who's not a digital publisher to "sell" a digital copy of anything to anyone. With a physical book, I guess an ordinary citizen can put stuff up on eBay or whatever, or take it to a used book store (which I've done, as well as donating to the library), but it's easier for me to wrap my mind around that. You take a book, you sell it, money changes hands, it passes to someone else.

With a digital copy, unless you delete your file, doesn't it stay on your device indefinitely? And I still don't even know how to do that on my Kindle. (I have like one book that I don't care to read any more and would like it to no longer take up memory on the device, but I cannot get rid of it.) This idea of "selling" digital copies with the assumption that the seller will get rid of their own file seems to be placing a *lot* of faith in people that I frankly don't have. Not even a little bit.