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U.S. Court: Software is Owned, Not Licensed

Most software publishers believe that their products are licensed, not owned. Most consumers disagree, saying that once they shell out the ridiculous gobs of money for said products, it's theirs for keeps no matter what publishers claim. This mentality especially holds true for Windows, with consumers purchasing one copy and installing it on multiple PCs. But as most consumers already know, Microsoft squashed those hopes and dreams with the release of Genuine Advantage, making it impossible for multiple installations without applying a WGA crack.

But there may now be some hope for consumers. In its battle to prevent the second-hand sale of its software, Autodesk has discovered that the "products are licensed" theory just doesn't jive with the government. According to Out-Law, the US District Court for the Western District of Washington is backing eBay retailer Timothy Vernor who was selling legitimate copies of Autodesk software in his eBay store.

Originally, Autodesk said Vernor didn't have the right to sell the software, claiming copyright infringement because the company only sells licenses. The court disagreed, and said that Vernor had every right to sell the software in his eBay store. The court based its decision on the previous "Wise" case, a ruling that said an actress had ownership over a Hollywood film because the rights were transferred to her name via a previous agreement.

With that said, the court made a groundbreaking decision that may effect every software publisher from here on out. "The Autodesk License is a hodgepodge of terms that, standing alone, support both a transfer of ownership and a mere license," the ruling dictated. However, the court eventually concluded that the previous Wise case "leads to the conclusion that the transfer of AutoCAD copies via the License is a transfer of ownership."