Thursday, June 12, 2008

EFF beats UMG in Augusto case; resale of promo CD's on eBay is NOT a copyright infringement

It's not on topic for this blog, but I thought my readers would be interested in another type of record company overreaching being shot down, the spurious claim that they could use the copyright laws to prevent an eBay seller from selling promo CD's because they had a sticker that they could not be resold. Defendant was represented by the vigilant Electronic Frontier Foundation, which argued that the "first sale doctrine" barred UMG's case. The judge agreed, and threw the case out.

The judge was Hon. S. James Otero, the same judge who rendered the excellent decisions in RIAA cases Elektra v. O'Brien and SONY BMG v. Does 1-5.

Here's a segment from EFF's report:

June 11th, 2008

Judge Shoots Down Universal's Bogus Infringement Allegations
Ruling Affirms Right to Resell Promo CDs

San Francisco - A federal judge has shot down bogus copyright infringement allegations from Universal Music Group (UMG), affirming an eBay seller's right to resell promotional CDs that he buys from secondhand stores.

Troy Augusto, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and law firm Keker & Van Nest, was sued by UMG last year in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for 26 auction listings involving promo CDs. At issue was whether the "promotional use only, not for sale" labels on those CDs could trump Augusto's right to resell materials that he owns, guaranteed by copyright law's "first sale" doctrine.

In dismissing UMG's lawsuit late Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero ruled that the promo CDs are gifts distributed by UMG, as they are mailed free and unsolicited to thousands of people without any expectation or intention of their return. The first sale doctrine says that once the copyright owner sells or gives away a copy of a CD, DVD, or book, the recipient is entitled to resell that copy without further permission.
Complete article

Keywords: digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property


Unknown said...

Something similar happened in a Supreme Court ruling on the "exhaustion principle" concerning patents, which more or less says that if you license a patent to party B and they make a product which they sell to party C, then party C can use the product as part of their own product without having to pay patent royalties. It's a lot like the first sale doctrine in that sense.

It's been a good week for fans of true balance in IP law!

Anonymous said...

Good to see that at least *some* judges are staying sane inmidst the pool of mad RIAA lawyers constantly hanging around them in courtroums!

BTW what's with the VAN?[1]
Can we have a copy of that proceding too, Michael has no link to them on his report and me wonders if EMI now goes into the business of selling used cars which might be more profitable for them after all since teenagers do not want their CDs anymore[2]!

yes, ^^THAT^^ means what it means ;-)

[1] "The Record Labels Want My Minivan"

[2] "But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.""

StephenH said...

RIAA cannot assume that "insiders" are an exclusive club anymore when it comes to copyright infringement in regard to promo CDs they don't want back.