Software is owned not licensed

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The software company Autodesk has failed in its bid to prevent the second-hand sale of its software. In a long-running legal battle it has not been able to convince a court that its software is merely licensed and not sold. Out-law.com report that

Autodesk claims that it sells only licences to use its software and that those who pay for it do not necessarily have the right to sell it on. It sued Timothy Vernor, who was selling legitimate copies of Autodesk software on eBay, for copyright infringement.

The US District Court for the Western District of Washington has backed Vernor, though, in his claim that he owned the software and had the right to sell it on.

The Court said that there were two cases to use as a precedent and that they clashed fundamentally. It had no choice, it said, but to follow the earlier precedent, which was a dispute over the ownership of prints of Hollywood films sold to film stars.

The Court did say, though, that Autodesk’s claims that Vernor’s actions were likely to result in the creation and sale of illegal copies of its AutoCAD software were not well founded.

“Autodesk’s claim that Mr. Vernor promotes piracy is unconvincing,” the ruling said. “Mr. Vernor’s sales of AutoCAD packages promote piracy no more so than Autodesk’s sales of the same packages. Piracy depends on the number of people willing to engage in piracy, and a pirate is presumably just as happy to unlawfully duplicate software purchased directly from Autodesk as he is to copy software purchased from a reseller like Mr. Vernor.”

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