In a landmark test case last week, a Washington (state) judge ruled that a person selling software on a site like eBay was entitled to sell it. Some of the commentary about this says that Autodesk (the company that sued the reseller), was hard-pressed to pass the ‘straight face’ test when they asserted that their software was licensed and therefore not able to be on-sold to another party. It seems Autodesk’s own website talked about ‘purchase’, ‘buy’ etc. when referring their software, so to play the ‘licensing’ card in bringing action against the eBay seller was stretching it. As one commentator said, “Kudos to Judge Richard Jones for seeing that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.”
I wonder what the long-term implications of this decision are for software companies in how they sell and license software. Almost every piece of software I have worked with or purchased has one of those very long EULAs (End User License Agreement) full of incomprehensible legalese, which you have to click “I Agree” to to install it on your computer.
You can read more about this decision here:
- Lockergnome (with commentary): http://tinyurl.com/5r7j64
- Ars Technica (with commentary): http://tinyurl.com/4guo59
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (blog by Corynne McSherry, with a link to the judge’s ruling): http://tinyurl.com/4t2p3p
[Thanks to Grant H for alerting me to this decision and some of these websites.]