DJ Arrested For Selling Pre-Release Promo CDs On eBay

from the ridiculous dept

Just days after a US court ruled that selling promo CDs sent out by the recording industry is perfectly legal, Techdirt reader cram writes in to let us know of a DJ and music reviewer in London who was arrested for doing exactly the same thing. The only difference in this case was that the guy was selling the CDs before they had been released. Still, this seems positively ridiculous. As we had just noted, while some places do treat pre-release leaks differently, UK law does not. Furthermore, he’s being charged with theft and money laundering. He was turned in by the IFPI, which apparently thinks that jailing the folks who promote your product is a good thing. What’s not entirely clear from the article is whether this guy was sent these CDs by the labels in the first place. However, it does sound like he got them as part of his role as a DJ and reviewer, since the IFPI even mentions that “people who have access to pre-release music by virtue of their job,” should watch out. If he really was “stealing” them, that’s one thing — but if the industry was sending them to him to promote the CDs, then hopefully the UK courts will react similarly to the US courts and quickly throw this out. Once they’ve sent him the CDs, they’re his. They’re no longer the record label’s. That he was arrested for selling something willingly given to him to promote seems ridiculous.

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Comments on “DJ Arrested For Selling Pre-Release Promo CDs On eBay”

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26 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

The reselling of promo CDs is actually pretty common in the UK. Indy record shops usually have a rack or 2 of promo CDs. There’s really nothing wrong with it, and I’ll guess this guy was just selling of the ones that didn’t fit hit personal taste / remit as a DJ. They give him free stuff, he uses his right to resell the gifts.

This is utterly dumb. They’re not pirate CDs, after all. It’s just like that arrest of the mixtape DJ in the US who got arrested – another case where a person who’s actually promoting music is prevented from doing so. Fantastic.

I don’t have complete faith in his success though. Look at the CDWOW cases where they were prevented from selling cheaper CDs under copyright law because the CDs had been sourced from outside the EU. Or the Lik Sang case, where they were shut down for daring to sell PSPs before they were officially released in the UK. Sometimes laws over here can be idiotic.

Oh, FTA, Universal are behind the US arrest? That makes me so surprised and once again vindicates my decision to never buy major label product. Maybe someone can beat some sense into them before their inevitable bankruptcy somewhere in the future.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They’re a dying breed alright, but there’s a few left if you look hard enough. The one I had in mind while typing that up was Reveal Records in Derby, but that closed up a few months ago 🙁

Still, my comment stands. There was always a small rack of promo CDs next to the counter and I used to love leafing through it to get bargains on recent and upcoming releases… Nobody was harmed, nobody was arrested, the record industry benefitted as I’d often buy something else along with the promos…

deadzone (profile) says:

Great Job!

That’s one less dangerous criminal off the streets! He murdered someone and stole the cd’s and then sold them right? Wait What?! All he did was sell promo cd’s that were GIVEN TO HIM on E-Bay?!

It’s so stupid that it makes my brain hurt. WOW. It would be cool if these media company goons would work as hard to find new business models and stuff. Attacking your fans though… I guess that’s one rather unique way of addressing the issue. I don’t see the reasoning behind it, but hey, that’s just me maybe.

tm says:

'the only difference'

Okay, I know you write about this stuff a ton. You should know better than to say ‘the only difference’ is that it was before the release date. Dude, come on, it’s in a completely different country with different laws all together. Yeah, some may be similar, but the legal system and laws are not the US. The case you sight, while interesting in timing, has no bearing whatsoever in the UK.

Nasch says:

Re: 'the only difference'

Perhaps what that means was “the only difference in what the DJ did was…” He goes on to mention quite clearly that this was in the UK, and I’m sure you can credit Mike with knowing US and UK laws are different, and US case law has no bearing in the UK. Or if you think he is that dumb or uninformed, you should probably skip his blog.

Keybored says:

As a DJ/reviewer we are given CDs to promote by giving them airplay during our gigs. Happy party-goers will hopefully like the new music and go out and purchase it.

It also helps us look good since have pre-released music in our catalog. We are not supposed to turn around and sell these promotional products. That DJ is most likely an Asshat (still my new favorite word).

Nasch says:

Re: Re:

We are not supposed to turn around and sell these promotional products.

What do you mean by “not supposed to”? Do the labels require you to sign an agreement to that effect? If not, they should not have any expectation about what happens to a gift after it is given. Note “should”. Clearly they do have such expectations, and unfortunately UK law enforcement seems to agree.

Corey says:

Research your story

I don’t know if this applies in this case, but in 1992-93 I worked at a radio station. When radio stations received records and CDs, they were technically “on loan” from the record company, and the company could ask for them back. They never did of course, but if this was the deal in his case, it does raise the question of who owns that particular CD.

J'smoove says:

Re: Research your story

I’d have to agree with Corey. I received promos all the time direct from the labels. Most of them have print saying they have the right to take the music back on demand (Or be prosecuted). Of coarse, they never ask for it back. But I do believe this was a part of the agreement I made with the label upon receiving it.

Here’s an exact quote:

“Lent for promotional use only. Any sale or unauthorized transfer is prohibited and void. Subject to return upon demand by owner. Acceptance of this record constitutes agreement to the above”

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Research your story

I’d have to agree with Corey. I received promos all the time direct from the labels. Most of them have print saying they have the right to take the music back on demand (Or be prosecuted). Of coarse, they never ask for it back. But I do believe this was a part of the agreement I made with the label upon receiving it.

As was pointed out in the US decision, since this “agreement” is never stated — the label just sends CDs to you, you never “agreed” to anything — then it is fair to assume that ownership of the disc has been transferred to you.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re: Research your story

Yes, it probably did say that and it’s great for your relationship that you agreed to do that… But American courts say that text on a disc isn’t binding.

What if it said, “Lent for promotional use only, at a rate of $5.00 per day. Any sale or unauthorized transfer is prohibited and void. Subject to return upon demand by owner. Acceptance of this record constitutes agreement to the above. Payment is due every fifteen days.”

Would you feel bound to that also?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Research your story

I don’t know if this applies in this case, but in 1992-93 I worked at a radio station. When radio stations received records and CDs, they were technically “on loan” from the record company, and the company could ask for them back. They never did of course, but if this was the deal in his case, it does raise the question of who owns that particular CD.

Read the decision in the US case that we linked to. In it they address this question clearly.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I also used to DJ and all I ever heard from others in the industry was that you’re not supposed to resell the promo albums you receive… I kinda thought it was common knowledge? Hell as Cory stated most of the ones I had had PROMO ONLY really big on the outside of the case.

The thing is, the copyright owner doesn’t get to set the law. Copyright is the law, and a record label isn’t allowed to change copyright law just by putting a stamp on the front of a CD.

Otherwise, think of where that leads. Eventually, all CDs will come stamped with “new” restrictions as per the record label.

Rose M. Welch says:

I think people are missing a point...

It is common knowlege among DJs that you’re not supposed to sell the promo disks that you receive from the companies, and I would thoroughly applaud them if they cut him off from all future promo CDs and issued a press release about his lack of integrity.

But they put his ass in jail. In America, it’s hard to get put in jail if you beat your wife and kids, or if you drink drunk and go the wrong friggin; way on the highway for miles and don’t notice the police behind you. Selling some CDs? WTF? I hope that country is happy with that use of funds.

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