New RIAA Argument: Throwing A Promo CD In The Garbage = Unauthorized Distribution
from the next-up:-picking-your-nose=distribution dept
Last summer, the EFF sued Universal Music Group, after UMG had eBay takedown the sales of certain CDs. The CDs were promotional CDs, purchased legitimately by a guy going to LA record stores. However, UMG claimed that the CDs, as promotional items, were still the property of Universal Music Group. The EFF charged that UMG was abusing the law, specifically by ignoring the right of first sale, which is enshrined in copyright law allowing you to resell CDs or other works that contain copyrighted material. In response, UMG has now filed a brief that says that throwing out a promotional CD is unauthorized distribution.
Effectively, UMG is saying that merely by putting some fine print on a CD, it can effectively “own” that CD forever. If the court agrees, this would have some rather stunning ramifications, effectively wiping out the first sale doctrine. Record labels could then include similar language on all CDs, not just promo CDs, and then basically create its own copyright rules, preventing any use other than what the record label decided to allow. That would seem to go against much of historical precedent (and basic common sense) surrounding copyright. Courts in the past have noted time and time again that just because you say something is true, it doesn’t mean it necessarily is true. Hopefully the court will make that point once again.