iStockphoto

Who owns software after it's sold? As many organizations, particularly in Europe, look to cut costs by purchasing second-hand software, the legality of such a practice was called into question. Following a case brought by Oracle Corp., a European court ruled this year that software developers may not forbid the resale of software and online software updates. But it's not just in Europe that software developers are protective of their intellectual property, and it's unclear how such a legal battle would unfold in the States.

Joerg Bauske, chief of computer systems for Berliner Volksbank said he purchased second-hand copies of Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop several years ago, reported Bloomberg.com. “We’ve had to be certain that the savings outweigh the legal risks,” Bauske said. “Now there’s less reason to be concerned.”

For now, it appears European organizations will have the thrifty alternative of purchasing second-hand software, but end-user license agreements in the U.S. typically forbid software resale, Bloomberg reported, adding that there have been no major court cases challenging such clauses. But American organizations can legally purchase second-hand software through European subsidiaries. The European decision removed any vendor control of what happens to its software following the initial sale, just as with most other goods.