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The Day a Record Label Cliché was Ruled Out

Have you ever been to a record store selling used and promotional copies? You’ll see many CD’s reading “For promotional use only – no reselling”. You probably had to think twice whether to buy a copy or not, wondering if it could be some sort of illegal sale. If you have ever bought a “Promo” CD before, you can rest assured that the FBI is not going to show up at your door and arrest you while your neighbors look on in horror.

Just recently, a higher court in San Francisco ruled that buying and selling of promo records is not in any way copyright infringement. Promo records are copies that are distributed by record labels, mostly to radio stations and some music critics, before the actual release date.

It was a big name in the music industry, Universal Music Group, that sued a California resident, Troy Augusto, about 4 years ago. The record label sued Augusto for allegedly reselling their promo CD on eBay. Similar actions would have been taken had the case favored UMG. Prior to suing Augusto, UMG’s standard practice was to send notifications to eBay with the objective of stopping the auctions. In court, Mr. Augusto firmly argued that he has the rights to sell the copies because he owns them, and stated that the First Sale Doctrine is applicable in his case.

…if you own a book or recording which you legally acquired, you retain the right to do whatever you want with it.

The First Sale Doctrine dictates that if you own a book or recording which you legally acquired, you retain the right to do whatever you want with it. You can give it to a friend, have the library keep it, or sell it to a record store. This rule makes borrowing a book from library possible. Thus, it annoys publishers and music labels as their profitability opportunity is impacted.

The Supreme Court originally ruled when this doctrine was codified that anyone who has bought anything in these categories are given the full ownership as long as the products is not being copied or reproduced. This case clearly showed that there is a distinction between copyright sale and sale of copy, so buy with confidence!

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  • About the Author:
    Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile.

    For more information please visit 977music.com.