The ruling means that gamers in European Union member states are free to sell their downloaded games, whether they're from Steam, Origin or another digital platform - no matter what End User License Agreement has been signed. link to Eurogamer:
Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy - tangible or intangible - and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the licence prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.
Essentially, the court held that, under EU law, the right of software developers to control distribution of a piece of software – whether stored physically or digitally – is "exhausted" (i.e. lost) once the developer has been paid for it (known as a "first sale"). This means that developers lose the ability to prohibit any second hand sale.
However, if a second hand sale goes ahead then the first purchaser must stop using her copy of the software and render it unusable, because the developer's right to control reproduction of software is not exhausted on a second hand sale. In order to make sure that the first purchaser stops using the software she has sold on, it is permissible for the software developer to use "technical protective measures such as product keys".
As you can see, this is a pretty big case (and probably one of the longest posts I've written on G/L!). I think it will have a sizeable short term impact, with a whole range of software businesses considering how it affects them. However, looking beyond that it seems clear already that the CJEU has posed more questions than it has answered and, in any event, nothing stays still in the world of tech and software. Will this case seem so epic in a year or three's time? Watch this space…