Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
promotional cds

ebay, eff, universal music

Who Really Owns Promotional CDs?

from the and-who-can-sell-them? dept

In my collection of CDs (and, yes, I still buy CDs), there's a relatively large number of "promotional" CDs -- many of which were purchased at independent record shops or online. It's not uncommon at all to find such CDs for sale, despite warning labels that say that cannot be sold. I've often wondered how enforceable that claim is, and we may soon find out. Universal Music claimed copyright infringement against a guy who was selling promotional CDs on eBay and eBay took down the auctions. The EFF is now suing Universal Music, claiming that it's a misuse of copyright law under the first sale doctrine (which says, like with any traditional good, you have the right to resell a digital good). Universal Music's response is that the CDs are actually still the property of the record label, and merely licensed to whoever received it. Of course, that could open up a ton of legal questions about ownership of certain goods -- especially if the receiving party never agreed to the deal. In the meantime, though, it's yet another case that highlights the blurring lines of ownership over tangible goods as makers of such goods try to make them more like digital goods.

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  1. icon
    MadJo (profile), 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:16am


    Not only radio stations hand out discs.
    Also newspapers or magazines distribute promotional CDs.

    BTW, it's strange that they make a fuss out of this. It's free promotion! Why are the media corporations so dead against free promotion?

    One other strange thing in this discussion is this:
    with CD-sales, you hear media corporations say: "You buy the disc and a licence to the music on that disc".
    Now, they seem to say "You only have a licence to said disc, and nothing more"... I find that incredibly hard to believe.

    First sale doctrine also applies to free goodies everywhere, so also on discs.

    If those media companies would give me a pen or a lanyard or a key chain for promotional purposes. I can then sell that to a collector.
    It's exactly the same thing.
    So why should it be different for discs?

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