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Right to Sell Promos Upheld

PROMO A GO-GO: You can now legally sell those album promo copies. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled consumers can re-sell free “promotional” CDs distributed by labels to music journalists and radio PDs. The court upheld a lower court’s 2008 ruling in favor of writer Troy Augusto, who sold promo CDs on eBay and was sued by Universal Music Group for copyright infringement. UMG argued, by tagging the promos “For Promotional Use Only. Not for Sale,” that constituted a “license” of the CDs, meaning they could recall them at any time and prohibit their resale. The Court found that “UMG transferred title to the particular copies of its promotional CDs and cannot maintain an infringement action for his subsequent sale of those copies.” They also rejected the argument that merely slapping a notice on a copyrighted work prevents the work from ever being sold. That eliminates the risk of copyright infringement claims against later recipients regardless of whether they paid for the work. Can we sell digital files now? (1/5p)

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