Universal brief says throwing away promotional CDs is “piracy”

May 2008

Record labels

A brief filed by Universal Music Group (UMG) in federal court says that giving away or even throwing out a promotional CD is piracy. The brief was filed in the case of UMG against Troy Augusto (Roast Beast Music Collectibles), an eBay based service that sells collectible promo CDs which are brought at used record stores around Los Angeles and resells them on eBay. Although the CDs have “promotional use only” labels, both he and the EFF (who took his case after UMG sued him) feel that he is covered by the “First Sale” doctrine in US law which allows purchasers of copyrighted material to sell that which they have purchased without violating the copyright laws as the copyright owner has derived all revenue from the so-called first sale, and cannot control the future disposition of the article originally sold. the copyright owner only has right to prevent others from copying and distributing (for free or for profit) copies of a work covered by a valid copyright. UMG argue that each promotional item is a copyrighted work and when they initially are distributed they are not sold – so they technically remain the property of the record company or the studio that distributed them. The Court has set a trial date of June 24, 2008.



This is a link to a very amusing article comparing J K Rowling’s “goblin” approach to the ownership of treasure with Universal’s approach – also noting that J K Rowling herself is currently in court in the US with a copyright infringement suit over an unauthorised lexicon about the Harry Potter stories.http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/citpat/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-2/120868593990920.xml&coll=3

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