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Website pledges crackdown on charity game code exploit

Customers found reselling inexpensive codes purchased through Humble Bundle

A representative for 7 Entertainment has issued an apology in the wake of claims that the distributor was reselling game keys acquired from charity auctions.

On Friday it emerged that several online retailers, all of which are owned by distributor 7 Entertainment, had been reselling game licences that customers had originally obtained for as little as $1 through various Humble Bundle promotions.

Zoom

The Humble Bundle initiative offers a package of games that customers can purchase at whatever price they wish ($1 minimum), with profits going to charity. Games have typically been sent to customers as Steam codes, though new evidence suggests some customers have decided to resell the codes on various auction sites such as those operated by 7 Entertainment.

Alex Tutty, a games law specialist at Sheridans, told CVG that it is not illegal for customers or businesses to sell on game keys, providing they are permitted by the terms under which they are licensed. However, most games companies forbid the practice in their End-User Licence Agreements, which consequently would make a resale illegal.

He added that the Humble Bundle exploit is therefore, in most cases, a breach of copyright.

Amid suggestions that the practice has affected many games creators participating in Humble Bundle initiatives, indie developer Paul Taylor (of Mode 7) managed to confirm the process by buying one of his own game keys through a 7 Entertainment website.

'Never our intention'

A 7 Entertainment company representative said "it was never in our intention to expose any indie developer to any financial losses or to cause them troubles".

They added: "Our Terms of Service is really clear - it's prohibited to sell games commonly offered as free or games from any charity events".

CVG has discovered that 7 Entertainment's terms of service were updated to prohibit charity code reselling after the Humble Bundle scandal emerged.

"It was never in our intention to expose any indie developer to any financial losses"

Tutty said that those who resell game codes, or owners of websites which promote them, would likely only be considered to be breaching copyright law if they are aware of the practice, or when informed, do not take steps to remove them.

7 Entertainment added "it was never in our intention to expose any indie developer to any financial losses or to cause them troubles.

"Please be advised, [we run] digital platforms for vendors from all around the world to sell theirs digital goods. We are not the owner of those products. If you can put it simple - we are like an eBay for gamers," the spokesperson explained.

"We have already contacted vendors selling those products in order to receive some information regarding the origin of those keys. We are sure that this situation will be resolved within next week."

SavyGamer

Meanwhile, Lewie Procter, of games deals website SavyGamer, has come under scrutiny for inadvertently promoting Humble Bundle codes.

Tutty told CVG that "a person is not liable for linking to an infringing piece of content as long as they did not have actual knowledge that the content was infringing and took reasonable steps to remove the link once they were made aware of it".

In a statement on his personal site, Procter has suggested he will continue to promote these codes.

"I have absolutely zero intention of ever shying away from informing my users about something that I consider to be a good deal simply because the developer disproves," he said.

In recent weeks, Humble Bundle has moved away from offering download codes of games, instead providing direct authentication links that are not so easily transferable. The company also allows a legitimate way for customers to gift codes as well.

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