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Is used software legal?

Yes, it is. A customer who purchased perpetual software within the EU/EEA market can (by EU law) transfer the ownership rights of his/her purchased software copy to someone else. Such activity does not require any acceptance or authorization from the software copyright owner (e.g. Microsoft) as their distribution rights have been exhausted upon the first sale. To put it more simply, it works similarly to when you buy a book – once you read it, you can freely sell it to someone else. And the original seller has no right to influence what happens to the already once sold book in the future. With software, it’s just the same – once it’s uninstalled from the original owner’s device, it can be sold to someone else.

For more information, read our Legal background of used software article.

How do you prove the legality of used software products?

The legal ownership of used software products is proven by accompanying documentation that you should always receive upon purchase. These documents contain information (such as the origin of the software, license agreement number, declaration of uninstallation from previous owner(s) etc.) that prove all legally established requirements for the transfer of software ownership were met. Our company always provides all necessary documentation, so you can be sure every purchase is risk-free.

I’ve found the same software for a much lower price. What’s the difference?

There are many used software sellers, who offer even the latest versions of Microsoft products for very low prices. The catch is that they only sell product keys, not the product themselves – it’s like buying a key to a house instead of the house itself. If you would buy these 10-euro product keys, you would be putting your company at a significant risk of huge fines (during an audit for example) as a product key and an invoice issued by the seller do not guarantee their legality, nor your ownership of the software they belong to!

We at Forscope only sell products coming from reliable sources and with complete, audit-ready ownership documentation.

What if the software manufacturer forbids license transfer?

Within the EU, the manufacturers cannot enforce "no transfer" policy anymore. In the past, they used to include it in their terms and conditions, but since the Court of Justice of the European Union decision in Case C-128/11 in 2012, they can no longer block future sale of their once sold products.

Here are a few important excerpts from the CJEU decision covering this topic:

“An author of software cannot oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences [...]"
"The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence is exhausted on its first sale.”
"Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy."

Based on the CJEU ruling mentioned above, the manufacturers adjusted their terms and conditions to reflect it. Here is an example from Terms and Conditions for the Microsoft Windows Server 2022 product:

"Nothing in this agreement prohibits the transfer of software to the extent allowed under applicable law if the distribution right has been exhausted."

Will your products pass a software audit?

Yes, they will. If an audit occurs in your company, or organization, you are obliged to prove you have acquired your software products legally – by showing the documentation you’ve received when buying them. Since our company provides complete ownership documentation as well as audit assistance if needed, there's no reason for you to encounter any problems during an audit of products you’ve purchased from us. Our company has delivered more than 700 000 software licenses and we have never come across a single case of negative ruling in a software audit of the products that we provide.

What software do you offer?

We provide a wide selection of used perpetual Microsoft products, but also other popular software such as Autodesk products (lifetime licenses). The Microsoft products that we sell come from the Volume (commercial) licensing channel, so they are best suited to companies and organizations. It’s also possible to request software that is not on our current offer and we will do our best to get it for you.

Why is Volume licensing the best choice for my business?

Volume products provide quick and easy licensing for any number of devices or users. Their main advantages are the capability to activate products on all devices at once with just 1 key (MAK), very easy transfer to new devices or users, and their compatibility with servers and RDS. The possibility of centralized management saves lots of time for the IT department and the software comes with extensive documentation that products from other distribution channels often lack. Plus, the price is comparable to Retail/OEM products!

Why is there only one key when I’ve bought multiple pieces of the same product?

Because software coming from the Microsoft Volume licensing channel doesn’t need to be activated separately with individual product keys. One Multiple Activation Key (MAK) is used to activate all your purchased products at once. The number of possible activations is multiple times higher than the number of bought products in case you would need to replace your hardware for example. Your company itself must ensure that the software isn’t being used on more devices than was the number of purchased products.

Can there be any technical issues with used software products?

If the software is installed, activated, and used according to its specifics, there is no reason why it would suddenly stop working (e.g. become deactivated) solely on its own. There’s no difference between new and used software in terms of functionality – it is still the same software product, with the same source file being used for installation.

Technical functionality and software performance is heavily dependent on changes on the manufacturer's side (released updates and fixes), but as far as activation status of the product is concerned, there's no reason for any issues to occur. In case you need help with activation of products that you’ve purchased in our eshop, we can always provide all the necessary help and assistance. 

Does used software receive updates (security patches, fixes) from the software manufacturer?

Yes, it does. Used software products receive all security updates, fixes and security patches released by the manufacturer, in accordance with the lifecycle policy for each specific product. They also come with the same features and standard technical support as provided by Microsoft or any other software manufacturer. There is no difference between updates for used software bought from us and  new software sold directly by the software manufacturer.

How do I know that the purchased software is not used by any of the previous owners?

This is ensured by a legally binding document in which the first owner (as well as any other consequent owner) declare that the software is no longer used by them or any other party, has been uninstalled and made unusable for them in the future. This document needs to be attached to every used software product that you purchase as it is required for the fulfilment of one of the 4 main conditions for the legal transfer of software ownership. We provide this document together with all other required documentation upon purchase.

Can public institutions purchase used software products, for example via a tender?

Yes, of course they can. There’s no justified reason why public institutions couldn’t buy used software products (be it via a tender, or not). In fact, used software can be a great way to save on costs, so that the public funds can be spent in the most cost-effective way possible. What’s more, used software sellers should always be allowed to participate in public software procurements as setting discriminatory conditions that exclude them go against the core principles of open competition and equal treatment (this makes the whole public procurement very vulnerable as the unfair demands are easily appealable in court).

Where do you buy the software products from?

Our products come either directly from companies that have a bigger amount of redundant software products, would like to sell or replace their software assets, or from our stable and verified suppliers in several European countries. Every time we purchase used software products for our stock, there is a very thorough process of verifying the legality and origin of the products and making sure all necessary documentation is included, so that we are able to provide it to our customers once they buy them.

What does the software buy-up process look like?

Every buy-up deal starts with a company, or organization sending us a list of software products they’d like to sell. Upon acceptance by our Purchasing Manager, they’re provided with a quotation from us. At the same time, we ask them to give us more information about the software products and provide us with all required documents confirming their ownership rights. These documents always need to be included for the transfer to be fully legal. We assist the companies every step of the ownership transfer if needed, so that it is as smooth as possible. Once all documents are gathered and a contract is signed, the company issues an invoice and delivers the products to us.

What documents do I need for software audits?

In the case of a software audit, you have to be able to provide sufficient evidence that the used software products meet all legal requirements and that your organization is the rightful legal owner of them.

Rightful ownership of used software is documented by:

  1. First acquirer's declaration containing:
    • Confirmation of uninstallation of the software.
    • Identification of the first acquirer (recommended) and the contract number between him and the software manufacturer (obligatory information).
    • Confirmation that the software was first sold and is being traded within the EU / EEA market.
    • Declaration by the first acquirer that the software has been fully paid for.
    • Confirmation that this is a permanent license.
  2. A list of the entire chain of owners (where applicable), with a statement from all owners that they uninstalled the software.
  3. An invoice (a tax document) between the seller (e.g. Forscope) and the buyer (your organization).

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