The Sweet Taste Of Defeat: Band Must Pay Legal Fees For Frivolous Lawsuit Over One Used CD On eBay

from the tilting-at-windmills dept

British glam-rock band The Sweet (best known for songs like Block Buster! and The Ballroom Blitz) seemed pretty damn bitter five years ago when guitarist Andy Scott sued an Austrian man, Dietmar Huber, for selling a single used CD on eBay at a price of one euro. At first, he claimed it was a pirated copy and asked for a €2000 fee, but Huber refused, insisting it was a legally purchased disc that he had every right to sell. Amazingly, Scott kept pushing, and went to court asking for €36,000. When Huber proved in court that it was his CD, Scott still didn't give up! He changed his claim to say he owned a copyright on the name, and all used sales had to be authorized by him.

Huber, as the victim of an utterly ridiculous string of legal attacks, continued to fight back, and now Austria's highest court has confirmed that he did nothing wrong and the band must pay his legal fees to the tune of £50,000.

This isn't really surprising—most jurisdictions recognize that it's always okay to re-sell something you legally purchased. Of course, we do see some companies pushing back against this, most notoriously video game developers. But even they'd (probably) be smarter than to engage in such a Quixotic legal quest. And that's the surprising part here: that the guitarist kicked off this circus and forced it to keep escalating. Used records have been a much-loved part of the music world for decades—did he think he was going to change all that? More importantly, does he think this is going to help him sell more albums? In reality, I'd guess people are going to be a lot more reluctant to buy a Sweet CD in the future, since they know they might get sued if they want to re-sell it later (because, given his dogged pursuit of this dead-end lawsuit, I am not optimistic that Scott has learned his lesson).


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  • icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 6:47am

    Most

    most jurisdictions recognize that it's always okay to re-sell something you legally purchased.

    Except the US.
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101213/09353512255/supreme-court-ruling-you-may-not-be-able- to-legally-sell-product-first-made-outside-us.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:12am

    It is so good to see the Paul Christoforo school of self promotion keeps on churning out new graduates.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:17am

    So in other words Huber had a sweet victory over Sweet ;)

    Swwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeettttt!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    timlash (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:20am

    Yeahhh!!!

    It's, it's a courtroom blitz.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:27am

    Speaking after the court ruling, Wolfgang Maier, the German lawyer for Scott, said: 'The end result according to the final court of appeal is that copyright and intellectual property protection in Austria is far short of what it should be.'

    Glad to see there are still people who think used markets are a problem and should be excised.
    You wouldn't prohibit someone from reselling a car.
    ... Actually, scratch that, I'm sure they'd love to if they could.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:31am

    Leigh you missed an AMAZING quote from the article...

    "Speaking after the court ruling, Wolfgang Maier, the German lawyer for Scott, said: 'The end result according to the final court of appeal is that copyright and intellectual property protection in Austria is far short of what it should be.'"

    I'm thinking its time we wall Germany back off again.
    They brought us speculative invoicing aka copyright trolling, GEMA, and now the idea that Copyright and IP means artists should be paid forever every time their work changes hands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 10:36am

      Re:

      Don't paint us all with the same brush because of some jackass lawyers and clueless judges.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      drew (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 11:54am

      Re:

      And don't forget the case was binned. I'm sure it wouldn't take long to find an asshole of a lawyer in any country ;)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Eduardo, 17 Mar 2014 @ 1:08pm

      Re:

      Since the purchase of the CD is really only a license to listen to the content without a forfeiture or complete surrender of copyright, technically Andy was correct in that a resell is actually a transfer of a copyright license without permission of the copyright holder.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:32am

    " In reality, I'd guess people are going to be a lot more reluctant to buy a Sweet CD in the future, since they know they might get sued if they want to re-sell it later (because, given his dogged pursuit of this dead-end lawsuit, I am not optimistic that Scott has learned his lesson)."

    Not really, because what this case now gives us is legal precedent. Scott would be pretty damn foolish to try something similar again when this precedent is there for all to refer to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:39am

      Re:

      Not really.
      Even with all of the media coverage people are still paying off copyright trolls.
      You just have to have a scary letter, and keep the demand lower than what it would cost to hire a lawyer and you get a payday from a percentage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TtfnJohn (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      Not that I ever liked them all that much anyway. But should I be feeling nostalgic one day I know what band I won't get a missing CD, DVD or LP of.

      And don't worry, Scott or someone else like him will try this trick again. :(

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      Scott *is* pretty damn foolish, as this case clearly shows.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Donnicton, 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:47am

    Well, looks like there really is someone who can make little Willy go home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AC Cobra, 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:52am

    Reverse psychology?

    Maybe he was hoping for some kind of Streisand effect to boost their sales.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 9:15am

      Re: Reverse psychology?

      If he was clever he would have claimed that the lawsuit was for protecting customers against the record industry. By setting a logical precedent in court as it happened in this case, it might be more difficult to get through court with lawsuits relying on such illogical claims.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tech42 (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 7:59am

    No way to promote sales

    If this case had gone in Scott's favour, wouldn't that mean that retailers could be sued for selling the CD in the first place? After all, they bought it (albeit at wholesale price) and then attempted to resell it.

    If this were to be accepted into law, wouldn't that mean that any physical item found to be associated with a copyright could not be sold? Wouldn't the same restriction apply to any physical item associated with a patent?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:04am

    Uh?

    Considering the number of secondhand record shops, bring and buy/jumble/car boot sales and classified ads selling records out there it is surprising that Scott didn't reailise earlier that his records were being sold secondahand all over the place for many years - OH wait - this was "on the internet"...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:09am

    God Bless Dietmar Huber!!

    Message to ancient talentless creep Andy Scott:

    You suck and your band sucked, you always sucked and you always will. That noise you called "music" and your image were utterly atrocious and an insult to mankind. You couldn't play a guitar to save your spent life. Your ancient noise still makes me want to vomit all these decades later.

    Now just foad you stone-aged make-up encrusted talentless relic!

    If you want to sue anybody, sue your fucking former record company for not compressing that horse-shit you called music enough - one can make out some of that awful ugly noise - despite the lowest known dynamic range on the planet.

    I will NEVER buy anything with your bloody name on it but I will download as much as possible for free and distribute with total abandon because of your ignorant actions, you make-up encrusted old tone-deaf creep!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:12am

      Re: God Bless Dietmar Huber!!

      caring is sharing... if you care... don't share this.
      Save the world from it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      GMacGuffin (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 9:48am

      Re: God Bless Dietmar Huber!!

      ... sue your fucking former record company for not compressing that horse-shit you called music enough - one can make out some of that awful ugly noise - despite the lowest known dynamic range on the planet.

      Actually, compression/limiting removes dynamic range by removing spikes, so lack of compression would not contribute to Sweet's lack of dynamics.

      It's more that they sucked anyway; on that I agree.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:10am

    A puzzle...

    I looked at the picture of the cd in the article... got curious.... did some looking around.

    http://www.algonet.se/~sweetfa/cd_box_legend.htm

    According to this webpage the first CD of the set had no The Sweet material on it.
    The second cd had 2 non The Sweet tracks.

    So I am wondering if maybe the anger was just misplaced. That ACD/Eurotrend released something they weren't authorized to or was crap, and so Scott was cranky. But the CD was released in 1997ish so it seems a little late and totally wrong to go after a guy selling a cd he purchased.

    Then I read The Sweet wikipedia page and found out that 2 members of the band were touring as The Sweet at the same time and it gets sorta confusing.

    While it is possible the CD was felt to be counterfeit, this wasn't the proper forum or target. Suing someone who was a fan of yours for buying material he thought was legit isn't a smart thing to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:13am

    better not try to sell any used copies of Wanye's World either...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Difster, 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:19am

    Tia Carerra's version of Ballroom Blitza was far better anyway.

    I'd say he was a washed up rock star but he was never really a star to begin with now was he. A couple of songs that got out there and it was over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Difster, 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:19am

    Tia Carerra's version of Ballroom Blitza was far better anyway.

    I'd say he was a washed up rock star but he was never really a star to begin with now was he. A couple of songs that got out there and it was over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Difster, 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:19am

    Tia Carerra's version of Ballroom Blitza was far better anyway.

    I'd say he was a washed up rock star but he was never really a star to begin with now was he. A couple of songs that got out there and it was over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    anymouse_cowherd (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:39am

    I just can't believe Mike's hubris...

    For years he's regaled us with the mantra of "Show us the real losses of the copyright system not some made up numbers."

    Now he's handed a incontrovertible FACT that copyright has cost an actual artist real money and all we hear is mocking.

    This guy thinks he can just sell a CD. That CD might as well be Scott's child. You wouldn't sell the kid that mows your lawn, would you? Selling used CDs is just like selling someone's child...to a cyber-terrorist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Poppa Joe, 11 Jun 2012 @ 8:41am

    "British glam-rock band The Sweet seemed pretty damn bitter"...

    Not exactly, since Brian Connolly died in 1997 and leukemia got Mick Tucker in 2002.

    This is all on Andy.

    1972-1978 Sweet: best rock band ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PRMan, 11 Jun 2012 @ 9:23am

    Less likely?

    "In reality, I'd guess people are going to be a lot more reluctant to buy a Sweet CD in the future"

    How could we be less likely to buy it? We'd never heard of the band until today...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 9:49am

      Re: Less likely?

      "How could we be less likely to buy it? We'd never heard of the band until today..."

      That makes two of us...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rikuo (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re: Less likely?

        Actually it is possible for us three (I'd never heard of them either) to now be less likely to buy the CD than before today. Imagine if two days ago you walked into a store and saw their CD on the shelf and bought it because of "insert reason here" (e.g. nice artwork, friend's recommendation etc.)
        Now, we've heard of this band and their jackassery. Now we know to avoid them completely.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    preciousillusion (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 10:46am

    1973

    Back in 1973 I sold some copies of a drawing I made, and today some little fucker tried to sell one of them on e-bay. I haven't sold many drawings since then so give me my fucking money you thieves.

    /Gollum

    Ps.
    I also want my ring back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Overcast (profile), 11 Jun 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Awesome to see the court find fairly.

    And I know of one band to avoid now, for sure. Even though I never sell my old CD's anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TEA-Time, 11 Jun 2012 @ 1:00pm

    I love it when greed backfires!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 1:04pm

    Huh?

    What the fuck is a "CD"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 2:04pm

    WTF

    Ballroom Ditz
    Ballroom Ditz
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2012 @ 3:05pm

    They haven't had a hit since, what, the 1970s?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digitari, 11 Jun 2012 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So if he tries to tour playing oldies music, he can name the band "Newtra-sweet??



    I like some of his songs, but I never knew the name of the band and I'm 51, and heard this music growing up


    (WLS, Chicago am radio)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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