Valve loses EU appeal over €1.6m fine for geoblocking practices



Highlights of the story

  • Valve has failed to defend its geoblocking technique and overturned the European Commission’s decision to fine the company €1.6 million.
  • The gaming giant was convicted of illegally geoblocking activation keys for games purchased in some low-income European Union countries. This practice violated the EU’s single market strategy.
  • Valve, in response, appealed to the Supreme Court and argued that copyright law allowed them to set prices of their choice in different countries.
  • The appeal was rejected by the General Court of the European Union, which clarified that copyright law cannot protect them against creating artificial price differences between national markets.

The valvethe publishing firm behind the popular gaming platform steam His appeal against a €1.6 million fine imposed by the European Commission over geoblocking practices has been rejected. The company was 2021 was held accountable along with five other popular game publishers. Under antitrust investigation by the European Commission. The investigation revealed that these companies were illegally geoblocking activation keys for games purchased in certain EU countries.

Geoblocking is a technology that restricts access to content based on a user’s location. It was revealed that Valve was in bilateral agreements with other publishers to geoblock activation keys. PC games I bought EU countries with low prices Such as Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. This is intended to prevent users residing in other countries from purchasing cheap keys using VPN services.

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However, this process is against it. EU Digital Single Market Rules. The European Commission fined all six companies and the rest Reduced fines for cooperationValve decided. Appeal. The company claimed that copyright law allowed publishers to set different prices depending on the country, but the EU General Court maintained that the geoblocking practice violated EU competition law.

Court clarified That copyright law does not cover it “Artificial Price Differences” between national markets and rejected it as a valid defence.

The purpose of copyright is only to ensure the protection of rights holders, by granting a license in return for payment of compensation, to commercially market or exploit the availability of protected subject matter, however, it does not guarantee them . The opportunity to demand the highest possible compensation or to engage in conduct such as creating artificial price differentials between fragmented national markets.

– European Union General Court

Now that the General Court of the European Union, the second highest court in the region, has rejected Valve’s appeal, it is uncertain whether the company will appeal again to a higher court or pay. €1.6 million fine. The valve There are two months and ten days to appeal again.

In addition to Valve, the investigation also targeted major industry players, including ZeniMax, Capcom, Bandai Namco, Focus Home Interactive, and Coach Media. However, the European Commission has demonstrated its zero tolerance for any actions that violate the EU’s single market strategy.

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