The Supreme Court Might Be About To Shut Down Used Game Sales For Good
Used games are a point of contention between gamers who want to save a little money and game developers who worry about losing new sales to used games. But it may all be moot, if an obscure case that's about to go before the Supreme Court goes copyright holders' way. Here's what's going on, and why you should care.
All games you sell used, you're doing so under a provision of the law called the "first-sale doctrine". Essentially, under the law, yes, the contents of your game are under copyright to the publisher and developer. But the actual copy, the item itself you bought, is your property to do with as you wish. Sell it to someone else, use it as a coaster, whatever, it's yours, you own it free and clear. They can't collect on it, they can only, you guessed it, earn money on the first sale.
But there's a point of contention in the law: so far, in a fairly obscure case that centers around cheaper textbooks being imported, the courts have ruled that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to any copyrighted products manufactured outside the US.
How is this a problem for you, the gamer? Well, if this interpretation of the law holds, in order for you to sell these products, you'd have to get the permission of the copyright holders.
All of them.
Let's say you wanted to sell a copy of Assassin's Creed II. You'd have to get permission from Ubisoft, of course, but also Havok, since the game uses its copyrighted physics engine, and also the manufacturer of the console your copy is for, since it contains copyrighted proprietary information that allows the game to work with a specific device. If the game also had, say, Autodesk's Scaleform, Unreal Engine, Bink Video, or any of a host of other engines, libraries, plug-ins, and other chunks of programming that are extremely common in building video games, you'd have to get their permission as well.
The same would be true of consoles and controllers, which are almost always manufactured overseas.
Sure, if your game was made in the US, you could sell it, no problem. But all any game company would have to do to block used sales would be to get the game made in Canada or Mexico, and revoke all requests to legally resell it.
We want to emphasize that it's by no means certain that the Supreme Court will agree with the lower courts on this issue, or that video game companies would act this way. But if the Supreme Court does decide the lower courts are correct, it opens the door to precisely the scenario we're laying out here.
Want to do something about this? Write your Congressman; you can find out who that is right here. Remember to be polite; angry cursing will just be ignored. And spread the word: this affects everybody, gamer and non-gamer alike.
I dont think you understand the precedent this would set
I'm not talking about just games either
Pat Bateman, is that you behind the Sideshow Bob mask?
and I'm pretty sure if this became law, pawn shops wouldn't be magically excluded. Are you kidding me?
This would affect any merchant who has to operate within the confines of US law.
Pawn shops aren't fucking street corner bootlegers.
meh, I don't live in the States so I'm good.
besides, laws like this aren't anything new. I mean look at VHS taps back in the day; they always showed a disclaimer stating copyright infringement of the distribution of this video without proper concent, yadda yadda, etc.
but people still dubbed tapes, shit I used to do it and give/sell to my friends all the time. And where I live there are corner stores everywhere in the major city areas with "brown bag" stores selling bootleg stuff; sure they get shut down when found out, but that doesn't mean they all go extinct, you just go 2 blocks over and find another one (China Town is notorious for this).
Even major establishments like sports bars who air live PPV's who are not authorized without proper concent from the distributor to show their program in a public place do it all the time; I see the words scroll at the bottom of the screen all the time when I catch a UFC or whatever, and they still do it without any regard for their wrong-doing.
I guess in the words of Everlast from House of Pain, "it ain't a crime if you don't get caught".
Why would you even comment on this article then?
I'm pretty sure consumers are gonna be pissed when they can't continue buying used copies @ gamestop, record stores or wherever convenient. People dont have time to seek out "undisclosed locations" after years of never having a problem.
The studios are simply trying to recount their "millions in alleged losses" out of the blue. Imagine if George Foreman had the supreme court stop people from selling his shitty little grills at yard sales?
if it happens in the US, im sure Canada wouldnt be too slow to follow.
but i remember a while back there was that issue about someone selling promo "not for resale" cds at a used cd store, and the courts sided with the seller, so theres hope it wont be complete fuckery
You'd think they'd realize that this would damage the market cos people won't have money to keep games going if they can't be circulated for their replay value.
fuck this bullshit,
gaming corps have been fucking gamers up the ass steadily for the past 3 years,
they demand more money
on the pc half the time your forced to use crappy services like windows live or origin
the DRM protections on half these games actually deter legit gamers from purchasing gamers
and lol @ this online pass bullshit with BF3 and GRAW, and not being able to play online with used games.
these corps make alot of money as it is and all businesses obviously attain to more profit but this is not the way to do it,
it just encourages (at least on the pc end) more illegal gaming.