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Software License Recycler

Pool everyone's discarded software licenses and sell them for $0.01
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
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There is a large demand for semi-obsolete software: game enthusiasts, non-profits that run older hardware, and others. At the same time, a HUGE amount of software gets thrown away. (Dead .coms, reorganizations, games that aren't interesting anymore.) A significant chunk of this software has transferable licenses.

The Software Recycler would run a website that would accept some documentary proof of ownership (serial number, mailed in receipt or EULA), and then allow members to buy that license. (Essentially for free.) This might not work for high value software, but it seems an easy way to take legal pressure off the folks that want to run old C64 games on emulators, etc. I for one, would be more than willing to contribute a bunch of old C64, apple, and PC game licenses. (And would be more willing to donate them to one central place rather that going through the hassle of selling them on eBay.)

There might be a for-profit service specializing in scavenging and reselling Exchange/Notes/Peoplesoft licenses, depending on resellability.

In many cases, this probably isn't legally bulletproof, but being able to prove in court that you have claim to a license should blunt any DMCA type madness.

tspyz, May 01 2002


       (Sorry to annotate my own idea, but it appears that the idea of reselling expensive licenses is at least semi-baked. However, if anyone wants a license to SimCity 3000, Sacrifice, Half-Life, Messiah, Archon for C64, or Robot Nim for TRS-80, I'm now officially donating them.)
tspyz, May 01 2002

       The problem with this idea is that, in many cases, you don't own the product - it's licensed to you for your use (thus the term license).   

       Many EULAs forbid the resale of the software they cover.
phoenix, May 02 2002

       //Many EULAs forbid the resale of the software they cover//   

       While some software vendors require customers to sign a contract before purchase, the uniform commercial code generally forbids merchants from attaching conditions to a sale after it is made. Many programs put a EULA up on screen at installation time and tell the person installing the software to return it if the conditions are not acceptable. Since the software is already opened at that point, however, (opening it was necessary to read the EULA in the first place) it is not returnable. Even when returns would be accepted, however, EULAs are still legally tenuous since someone who does not wish to accept a EULA must expend effort to get their money back [by contrast, if the EULA were refused before purchase, the customer would be have the money by default].
supercat, May 02 2002

       Is there a statute of limitations for this? 7 years seems a likely time period. Debts are forgiven if no effort is make to collect on them after a rather long time. I think legal agreements that do not mention a time limit or expiration are understood to have whatever common law says. And if they explicitly say otherwise, they may not stand up in court.   

       But this probably falls under copyright which, before about 1925, was for 50 years after author's death. For works after 1925, it's 75 or maybe 95 years, and may be changed at the whim of Congress. Going to be a long wait.
ThotMouser, May 02 2002

       I have read plenty of license agreements (yes, I actually do read those things) that explicitly state that the license is transferrable if you transfer all copies of the software and documentation permanently to the recipient. Some others explicitly forbid transfer. In the former case, this idea should work without any legal problems.
BigBrother, May 02 2002

       Assuming the software license is transferable, how does one find a secondary market for expensive software licenses (i.e., $10,000+)?
consigliari, May 10 2004

       One major problem with the way Congress has [bleep]ed copyright laws is that it's possible (and common) for information to end up in a sort of limbo, where it cannot be copied nor distributed without permission from the copyright owner, but where it is impossible for anyone to demonstrate who the owner is. Ironically, while it may be physically possible to reproduce the material in unlimitted quantities, the supplie of legal copies may be forever fixed and no more ever produced.   

       Unless the copyright rules change, there are many works which will never enter the public domain. Even if someone knows that a work was published in 1950, if one doesn't know the author one will have no way of knowing when the work enters the public domain. Even if there are no further extensions to the copyright rules, a work which was first published in 1950 could still be protected under copyright in 2100--a century and a half later.
supercat, May 11 2004


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