Feeds

US court ruling nixes software EULA sales restrictions

Go forth and resell your bundles

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

In an intriguing ruling picked up by LinuxJournal's Don Marti, a US district court has given encouragement to software users who want to extricate themselves from restrictive software licenses.

The judge, in the case Adobe vs Softman heard in the Central District of California, has ruled that consumers can resell bundled software, no matter what the EULA, or End User License Agreement, stipulates. Specifically, the ruling decrees that software purchases be treated as sales transactions, rather than explicit license agreements. In other words, consumers should have the same rights they'd enjoy under existing copyright legislation when buying a CD or a book. They can't make copies, but they can resell what they own.

"The balance of rights in intellectual property law is already tilted heavily in favor of the intellectual property owner," ruled Judge Dean Pregerson, in a burst of enlightenment.

In the case SoftMan was reselling Adobe software it received in bundles or "collections". Adobe claimed this was a breach of its trademark. Judge Pregerson wasn't convinced, and decided that existing copyright law should apply:

"... the purchaser commonly obtains a single copy of the software, with documentation, for a single price, which the purchaser pays at the time of the transaction, and which constitutes the entire payment for the 'license.' The license runs for an indefinite term without provisions for renewal. In light of these indicia, many courts and commentators conclude that a "shrinkwrap license" transaction is a sale of goods rather than a license."

The decision has its limitations, being merely a vacation of an earlier judgement. It doesn't even settle the Softman case. Given the powerful interests of the shrinkwrap software industry, it's likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

But it does weaken the case for blanket, catch-all EULAs, and give users the opportunity to resell bundled shrinkwrap software. ®

Bootnote:Readers have pointed out that the excellent Linux Weekly News first ran this story. Credit where it's due - you can read LWN's coverage here.

External Link

The Ruling

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.