Founded in 1988, the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, or ISFE (similar to the ESA in North America), engages European policymakers regarding the video games industry. The ISFE promotes “regulatory harmonization and effective representation for the video games ecosystem across Europe.” This past Friday, the ISFE condemned a recent ruling in a French court last Tuesday regarding the resale of digital games.
The ruling violates EU law and “should be overturned on appeal,” according to the ISFE. The court determined customers purchasing games via Valve’s Steam service have permission to sell them. Brought to court by consumer advocacy group UFC-Que Choisir, the case is the latest in a battle over digital goods. In the EU, an “exhaustion doctrine” exists regarding products. This doctrine removes a copyright distributor’s rights to distribution after the first sale. However, according to the ISFE, this only applies to physical goods. Digital products, such as ebooks and games, do not qualify. Citing the ongoing Tom Kabinet case, the ISFE believes this establishes precedence to support their position. In the latest Opinion from the Advocate General, the doctrine does not apply to intangible goods.
Simon Little, CEO of the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, released a statement about the French ruling.
This French ruling flies in the face of established EU law which recognizes the need to protect digital downloads from the ease of reproduction allowed by the Internet. Far from supporting gamers, this ruling, if it stands, would dramatically and negatively impact investment in the creation, production and publication of, not just video games, but of the entire output of the digital entertainment sector in Europe. If Europe’s creators cannot protect their investments and their intellectual property, the impact on both industry and consumers will be disastrous.
What do you think? The ruling on this case could have a significant impact on games and their future distribution. For many, the current appeal of physical discs or cartridges is being able to sell or trade them. At the moment, however, consumers can only refund digital games within a time frame. But, with many digital storefronts, these refunds also come with several stipulations attached. Let us know down in the comments!