Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
promotional cds

Companies:
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
    Wolfger, 10 Aug 2007 @ 4:55am

    so...

    If I own a license, and not the actual disc, can I not sell that license? And isn't that really the same thing?

    I'm just waiting for the study that shows how many millions of dollars "promotional CD" sales are costing the industry. Maybe the solution is to quit distributing promotional CDs?

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