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. identicon
    Shadowside Music, 12 Sep 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Don't pay attention, give it away.

    Many of you seem to fail to realize that many arists, especially independent artists and labels, are not making millions of dollars. When a promotional CD has been sent to a radio or publication it is normally under sole license for broadcast or review, not resale. That CD has cost the label and artis money. Money has been paid to produce that CD. When someone takes that same CD, which has not generated any income for the artist or label, and sells it, the seller is the only one making a profit, at the artist's and label's expense. It is the same as if you worked a 40 hour job and someone else got paid for it, not you! Think about it. The composition means many hours of work for the artist, as well as engineers, guest artists, designers, just to name a few people trying to make a living. Trying to twist things around to pretend that what you are doing is not bad does not work. it IS a bad thing, period.

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