Recording Industry Again Upset At UK Retailer For Selling Foreign CDs Cheaply

from the how-dare-they! dept

Apparently, in the UK, the recording industry just can’t allow perfectly legal CDs from other markets to be sold. It would upset their ability to price discriminate against UK buyers. Three years ago, we covered the situation involving UK-based CD retailer CD Wow, who got in trouble for importing CDs from overseas and selling them in the UK at cheaper prices. The CDs themselves were legal — but just not intended for the UK market. The record labels, of course, had been using price discrimination, making CDs in the UK more expensive than identical CDs elsewhere. It seems ridiculous then to stop someone from committing a little arbitrage and importing the cheaper overseas CDs, but apparently the industry took the situation quite seriously. They’re back at it, though, with the British Phonographic Industry (the UK equivalent to the RIAA) now seeking contempt of court charges against CD Wow for apparently selling a few more of these overseas CDs. For its own part, CD Wow denies any wrongdoing, while also pointing out how ridiculous the law is in the first place.

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Comments on “Recording Industry Again Upset At UK Retailer For Selling Foreign CDs Cheaply”

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Blabber says:

Why only record industry?

I am a consumer and I do hate overcharging. However, the price differentiation is used in many industries, not just in the record label industry.

The cost (marketing/distribution/tax/business risk premium/all) differ from country to country.

I do not know the details of price difference/reasons here, but look at the book publishing industry. You can get most of the books originally published in developed worlds for 1/5th price in developing countries. The paper quality is different, but the content is usually same. These books carry a warning label that you can sell those only in those specific countries.

Paul says:

Re: Why only record industry?

The difference is that nobody in the book publishing industry is sueing Amazon or other online book retailers for importing books into the UK from other countries. the record industry is, for no other apparant reason than the fact that they are able to charge more in the UK than the far east for the same product. Yet another reason why as a UK resident, I don’t buy music from major labels.

Ray (user link) says:


One of the consequences of doing business in a global economy is that you’re really dealing with a single market and you (should) have to price your products accordingly. The MPAA is famous for using DVD Region Coding to price its products at whatever individual markets will bear rather than the price that the global market will bear. That’s well and good but it crosses a line when they resort to legislation like the DMCA to prevent consumers from using their rightfully imported discs on hardware wholly owned by the consumer. The BPI’s tactics here are only slightly less sleazy.

Lutomes (user link) says:

Sounds Fair

In Australia we put in laws specifically that allow you to bring overseas products into the country, so the consumers don’t have to put up with extortion from “local” suppliers. And by local suppliers I mean the Australian branch of some overseas multinational corporation.

Thats why here most dvd players don’t have region coding, and those that do you can get an unlocking code from the manufacturer (in most cases anyway) to let it play all regions.

At the end of the day it helps to keep the price of the normal goods (things produced “for” Australia) down to a reasonable level, so the cheaper parallel imports are usually only a little bit less expensive than the normal goods.

John says:


In the US there is a law called the Parallel Import Law that prohibits importation of music that is already licensed to be sold by a US vendor. In the US it wasn’t too necessary to have strict inforcement as import were expensive as therefore sold in small amounts

So, the UK may have some similar law or view. I could see this being a problem as with closer borders the import prices can be potentially lower; creating more of competitive dymnamic.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Parallel Importing

New Zealand got rid of its laws against parallel imports many years ago. As a result, we can indeed get lots of cheap CDs, DVDs and other products in retailers like The Warehouse. Qute a lot of those DVDs are Region-2 ones (we’re in Region 4), but all the DVD players are multiregion anyway, so this doesn’t seem to cause much of a problem.

Keith says:

I think that you will find that the only reason the so called music industry in the UK charge such extortionate prices for their music CDs and other media is that up until very recently the British public have been stupid enough to pay those prices without question.
The American public would not put up with such extortionate prices for one minute and would just boycot any overpriced goods, unfortunately for the greedy bosses who own and run the music and film industry in the UK we now have universal access to the Internet and are able to research International prices and download music and films from anywhere.
The simple fact of the matter is that 99.9 % of the music industry bosses are well beyond middle age and are only just waking up to the fact that something like the Internet exists, they are 10 to 15 years behind everyone else and will use any tactics they can to try to catch up and restore their profits.
Why else would they hve price descrimination and take companies to court for importing perfectly legal CDs and DVDs from other countries?
Think about this for one moment the biggest four music companies are now playing catch up on the Internet so they have set up huge servers in the United States to store and sell their music products On Line, it all comes from exactly the same servers in the same place in the United States OK.
So why on Earth does it cost consumers in the UK nearly 3 times as much to download that music as it does for someone in the US?
That’s called greed and basically is extortion, the companies involved are telling you to pay 2 or 3 times more for the same product or be taken to court for trying to purchase it legally in another country.
Unfortunately for them the Gennie is out of the bottle in the form of Internet access and unless they are willing to level their prices Worldwide they will never stop illegal downloads.

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