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02 December 2019
austria vienna

New Rules for Digital Content & Sale of Goods

The Sale of Goods Directive will apply to sales contracts between a consumer and a seller for goods, including goods with a digital element (e.g. smart TVs, smart fridges or smart watches) regardless whether concluded physically in shops or online.

The Digital Content Directive will apply to any contract where the trader supplies digital content (e.g. movies, photos, e-books) or digital service (e.g. apps, cloud storage, streaming services) to the consumer. Remarkably, the Digital Content Directive may also apply when the consumer does not pay for the service but provides its personal data in return for the digital content or service as a "payment", except where the personal data is exclusively processed for the purpose of supplying the digital content/service or for allowing the trader to comply with its legal obligations.

Since the Sale of Goods Directive does not apply to immovable property (due to the definition of "goods"), this means that in future three different warranty regulations must be observed in Austria for (i) goods under the Sale of Goods Directive, (ii) digital content or digital service under the Digital Content Directive, and (iii) inter alia immovable property under the current Austrian Civil Code.

It is questionable whether the sought-after full harmonisation will be achieved. There are numerous opening clauses which Member States can use. It remains to be seen how they will implement the Directives and which opening clauses they will use as well as how the new warranty law will impact the business environment and how consumers will benefit from it. It seems traders will continue to face a variety of consumer protection rules in the EU.

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