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
    Owen, 29 Dec 2008 @ 11:51am

    My Uncle once said...

    "Why make it easy when you can make it difficult." The actual story behind it is different, but oh, it has great relevance to this.

    It is evident that no one in the music industry cares about providing people the music anymore, but rather making as much money as possible and squeezing out every last dollar from all possible consumers. And in the mean time, they slap all these laws and regulations onto the products so that they are rendered "useless". All this business of Copy Protection and no re-selling indubitably shows how paranoid the industry is about the whole idea of lending and sharing (or as they call it, "piracy"), and how they want to control everything that you do with the CD.

    It's all about being able to guarantee money in the pockets of the music label managers, producers and artists, regardless of whether the consumer is p*ssed off or not with their product.

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