The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a software package purchased at retail via a customary license agreement cannot be freely resold by the buyer or subsequent transferees, because the customer is a licensee rather than an owner, even with respect to the packaged copy of the software purchased.  Accordingly, the software maker is entitled to prevent the resale on eBay of its software packages including valuable update preferences.  The Ninth Circuit reviewed its history of prior decisions on the issue and expressly held that “a software user is a licensee rather than an owner of a copy where the copyright owner (1) specifies that the user is granted a license; (2) significantly restricts the user’s ability to transfer the software; and (3) imposes notable use restrictions.”  (Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., 9th Cir. Court of Appeals No. 09-35969, September 10, 2010)

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