UK Judge Rules That Selling Consumers Cheaper CDs Is Illegal

from the makes-sense dept

The story of CD-Wow, the second-biggest British online music retailer, has been dragging on for a while. In an effort to offer its customers cheaper CDs, it began importing them from Asia, where they’re cheaper, then selling them to consumers in the UK. As this pretty effectively got around record labels’ efforts to artificially inflate CD prices there, the BPI got upset and forced the company to stop selling the discs without its consent, resulting in a 2-pound price increase. The BPI then got even more upset when CD-Wow went around explaining how the BPI’s actions forced them to increase prices. Now, CD-Wow has been hit by a judge with fines as high as 4 pounds per CD for selling the imports, after legal action from the BPI and several labels. Just to be clear: CD-Wow was selling legitimate discs, not pirated copies. They’d simply found a cheaper supplier in another part of the world, and passed the lower costs onto consumers. The labels argue this is somehow a violation of their copyright, but it seems much more like a handy bit of protectionism. Many music buyers are familiar with “import” CDs that often feature different or additional material from releases in their own country, and record labels don’t really seem to have a problem with American buyers shelling out $30 for a Japanese version of a CD, or $12 for a UK import single. But when imports come at a lower price, then it’s a problem. CD sales are falling, a sign that consumers don’t see enough value in them at current prices. So rather than lowering prices (or improving the product) to correct that imbalance, the labels would rather keep prices inflated and hold back sales. With decisions like that, it’s little wonder these companies are struggling.

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Comments on “UK Judge Rules That Selling Consumers Cheaper CDs Is Illegal”

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Sanguine Dream says:


I know it was bad in America but I didn’t think it that bad in the UK.

I often wonder if this is what people have to look forward to when cleaner (and eventually cheaper) sources of fuel become common place. Will we see the likes of Exxon taking the producers of the new fuels to court for driving the prices of traditional gasoline down (due to the demand for gasoline going down)?

Tim Stevens (profile) says:

MPAA, RIAA etc want you to shell out money to buy their crappy product when and where they want you to.

Moreover, they feel you don’t own the thing you purchased. You have only rented a license which they can then void whenever and wherever they so choose.

Now, you are not allowed (according to this mono-browed, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging idiot of a judge) to resell a CD.

Anonymous Coward says:

CDs are now useless

CDs have become useless to me, and I have never (and will never) pay for one. The money does not go to the artist, it goes to the RIAA. I would rather pay for a concert. Goodluck RIAA, you will lose eventually.

I will continue to pirate music and sell my friends illegal CDs, not because it is profitable, but because I want the RIAA to lose money. If I could pay 1$ a song for my illegal downloads, and if I could be sure that nearly all of it went to the artist, I would.

Another annonymous coward says:

greedy, corrupt scum scucking POLITICIANS

One reason for high drug prices and corporations running amok?
Excerpt from Wikipedia:
Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology . . .
Various scholars attribute different charactersistics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, AUTHORITARIANISM, MILITARISM, and CORPORATISM.

That’s what we have allowed to happen, here in the USA. It’s about time we start calling it by its real name.

Enrico Suarve (user link) says:


Please could someone, anyone, explain to me how buying a legal CD from a different source is a breach of copyright?

I honestly don’t get it and would love it if anyone out there who has a clue how this could be the case would explain it to me

This case makes me ashamed to be British – the ruling is closer to the RIAA managed madness in the states, obviously our courts have just as little backbone when it comes to standing up to corporations at times

Is there anywhere in the world I can emigrate to that isn’t sucking it up to the likes of Sony?

Damn UK says:

No copying = no copyright breach

No copy was made, so no copyright infringement occurred.

This is not really a copyright issue. The lobbyists got a restriction to prevent parallel importing slipped into copyright law.

There is an oddity in UK law, section 18 of the CDPA, states that an article is an infringing copy if it has been imported into the UK and its making in the UK would have constituted either an infringement of the copyright in a work or a breach of an exclusive licence agreement related to that work.

This is bad for the UK because it lets companies charge more to the UK than elsewhere and block imports of cheaper goods in direct violation of free trade rules.
UK pays more than other countries, so is less competitive as a result.

See Vista pricing as an example of this.

So the rule is bad for the UK, yet has been slipped into a copyright measure.

Evostick says:

This discredits all BPI arguments about CD prices being a bargain in the UK.

If you can transport the same product halfway around the world, and still sell it cheaper than the locally produced version, then the local version is obviously to expensive.

The energy and time used to transport the CDs are also a huge waste of resources!

Angry Bill says:

Makes your blood boil

The law is open to interpretation and on that basis I think that the company CD Wow should appeal this dreadful decision.
After this decision there must be a lot of companies in other fields who are shaking in their boots because they import goods in to UK cheaper from other countries than they can buy from suppliers here. The greed is sickening and we should all stop buying ANY of these GREEDY COMPANIES PRODUCTS who are part of this corporate, greedy clique, who want to walk all over the people and their freedom of choice.
For years the Americans were paying $6 for a CD which we were paying £8-£12 for depending on where you bought it (more than double the price, and they were complaining then ).
The only good thing about money is that it is highly portable, we can spend it anywhere. Exercise that right and buy other companies products instead, in order to hurt them right in the wallet.

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