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Friday, August 29, 2014

Valve is being sued in Australia

News by Matt S.

Here's some interesting news to round out the week: Valve is being sued by the ACCC in Australia for being in breach of Australian Consumer Law with its Steam download portal.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in long form) is our national watchdog for consumer rights, and is designed to ensure that every business that operates in Australia does so according to our local consummer laws.

Specifically, the ACCC is taking action against Valve for its no refund policy. In Australia, consumers do have a right to demand a refund from any organisation they buy a product from if that product has a major fault.

In a statement published on Kotaku, ACCC Rod Sims said that it doesn't actually matter whether Valve has an office in Australia or not. You sell legal products to Australians, you must abide by consumer law. "Valve may be an American based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law."

The hearing will start on October 7.

To be honest I think it's long overdue that the ACCC took action against Valve for having a policy that is in direct opposition to local laws. Other digital games sellers will want to watch this one closely, however, because should the ACCC be successful in this case, it will set up a precadent for the other local digital distributors.

And I do think it's a good thing. I firmly believe that global organisations, even those that sell digitally and don't have a local presence, should respect the local laws of every nation that they sell to. Every other business has to, after all, and the playing field should be level.

To the best of my knowledge it is possible to seek refunds from Apple and Sony (or, at least, I've heard of people successfully doing it), but I'm not sure about how Nintendo or Microsoft's policies would stand up to a legal motion if the ACCC should bring one up against them.

- Matt S. 
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
Valve is being sued in Australia
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