The case deals with the question of whether it’s ok to resell the right to use a program. If we were talking about apples or cars, no sane person would have claimed that it’s not ok for the owner of the apple or the car to sell it to someone else.
Apparently an ECJ decision was necessary to confirm that this applies to software as well.
With Free Software, the question doesn’t even come up. If you’re not allowed to redistribute the program (gratis or for a fee), it’s not Free Software, period.
I see two interesting aspects to the decision, though.
One, it shows that Free Software licenses provide much more clarity, and puts the user in a stronger position, than proprietary End User License Agreements (EULAs) do. The ruling also highlights that even the more central bits of such EULAs won’t necessarily stand up in court, let alone all those frivolous bits that say “by using this program, you grant us unlimited and perpetual rights to slurp all your data, empty your fridge and sleep in your bed”.
Second, I wonder what the ruling changes for music, books, movies and other stuff sold with DRM functions that tie these to a single user. Shouldn’t we be allowed to resell those as well? The press release says that “[selling a license to use, for a fee] involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy”. That’s a pretty clear statement.
This could be a useful precedent. Interesting times ahead.