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Reselling used software

James Carnie | Feb. 6, 2013
How many computer programs have you ever purchased? The answer is probably zero, because most software is not "sold", but licensed. The same applies for music, movies, and many other forms of intellectual property.

In customer contracts, the legal status of the transaction must be expressly recorded, and terms such as the duration of the licence as well as use/transfer restrictions can also be very important.

When considering practical delivery methods, techniques such as expiring licence keys or the provision of software on an ASP/SaaS basis (ie therefore avoiding the supply of a 'copy' to the customer) might -- depending on the jurisdiction and the state of the developing law in this area -- successfully avoid the application of the first-sale doctrine, or otherwise effectively stymie the creation of a grey market in second hand licences for the software.

Although it is difficult to predict the final outcome of these emerging laws concerning the resale of intellectual property licenses, exporters should nonetheless be conscious of these issues and take appropriate steps in their licensing and delivery strategies to best position themselves -- and preserve the market for new sales -- moving forward.


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