Oracle software is at the heart of an intellectual property controversy once again, this time in a way that could redefine digital product ownership rights.
The case in question concerns client-server software, or programs that companies can download from the Oracle website for storage and limited internal distribution via licensing arrangements. For instance, customers typically purchase licenses that allow them to grant 25 colleagues access to the downloaded software.
German defendant UsedSoft was accused of misappropriating the digital copyrights by essentially buying up "used" Oracle software licenses and reselling them to either prospective Oracle customers or those approaching the end of their current contracts.
This week, the European Union's Court of Justice has sided with UsedSoft, upholding the firm's right to resell a license on the grounds that Oracle's exclusive right to distribution is "exhausted on its first sale."
"Even if the license agreement prohibits further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy," the court opinion stated.
According to ZDNet, this software licensing decision could open the door to future resale of digital books, music and videos as well. However, it is important to remember that this precedent is being set in the EU. In the United States, organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America still regard any resale of digital media as willful copyright infringement and may put up a more concerted effort to oppose similar motions.