Los Angeles - Digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) earlier this week filed a brief on behalf of an eBay seller who was sued by Universal Music Group for reselling promotional CDs, arguing that the record label is violating copyright law’s "first sale" doctrine.
Troy Augusto was sued in May 2007 by Universal, which argues that the "promotional use only, not for resale" stickers it affixes to the promotional CDs it sends to music critics and other insiders means that the albums remain the property of Universal Music Group at all times.
Augusto finds these promo CDs in the bins at local secondhand stores in Los Angeles, and resells them under the username "Roast Beast Music" on eBay.
The EFF argues in its brief that Universal "gives up ownership of these promo CDs when it mails them unsolicited to thousands of people without any intention of their return."
"If UMG is able to stop resale of CDs just by putting ‘not for resale’ labels on them, then there is nothing to stop other restrictive labels from appearing on CDs, books, and DVDs," said the EFF’s Fred von Lohmann.
"Record companies are not entitled to strip consumers of their first sale rights simply by putting labels on their products."
A hearing on the EFF’s motion for summary judgment is expected in early May.