They say everybody’s a critic nowadays, so I’m guessing we all get our fair share of crummy promo CDs from desperate labels. Well, you better not dump them just yet, because it might be illegal to get rid of them.
In a brief filed in federal court yesterday [pdf], Universal Music Group (UMG) states that, when it comes to the millions of promotional CDs (“promo CDs”) that it has sent out to music reviewers, radio stations, DJs, and other music industry insiders, throwing them away is “an unauthorized distribution” that violates copyright law. Yes, you read that right — if you’ve ever received a promo CD from UMG, and you don’t still have it, UMG thinks you’re a pirate.
UMG apparently believes it has “eternal ownership” over promo CDs. Our friends at EFF are fighting this, correctly pointing out that this crazy idea totally goes in the face of the “first sale doctrine” under the U.S. Copyright Act, which states that “once a copyright owner has parted with ownership of a CD, book, or DVD, whether by sale, gift, or other disposition, they may not control further dispositions of that particular copy (including throwing it away).”
So now what the fuck are we supposed to do with that Will.i.am album? Return to sender? Hey, how about this: don’t send us shit unless it’s good? How about that?