As reported by Eurogamer, the European Union's Court of Justice has ruled that publishers cannot legally prevent gamers reselling digitally distributed titles.
The court has found that: “An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences allowing the use of his programs downloaded from the internet.”
The court also declared that exclusive rights binding the distribution of the game are “exhausted on its first sale,” which essentially means that consumers are free to resell digitally distributed games regardless of whatever end-user licencing agreement has been presented by the retailer.
In addition, "...even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy", suggesting that by purchasing the game second-hand, the new owner is entitled to download it from the publisher's website.
"Therefore the new acquirer of the user licence, such as a customer of UsedSoft, may, as a lawful acquirer of the corrected and updated copy of the computer program concerned, download that copy from the copyright holder's website,"
The ruling isn't quite as forgiving as may seem; if anyone sells a license to a game, they must ensure that their copy is "unusable at the time of resale". If this action isn't taken, "...he would infringe the copyright holder's exclusive right of reproduction of his computer program. In contrast to the exclusive right of distribution, the exclusive right of reproduction is not exhausted by the first sale."
Heady stuff. Read the full ruling here.