Ruling: First Sale Doctrine Applies to Promotional CDs

Universal Music Group (UMG) tried to prevent sales of promotional CDs labeled “Not for Resale,” but a federal district court says the first sale doctrine extends to these promotional discs. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

In its ruling, the district court found that the initial recipients of “promo CDs” own them, notwithstanding “not for resale” labels. The court rejected the notion that these labels create a “license,” concluding that the CDs are gifts. According to the opinion, “UMG gives the Promo CDs to music industry insiders, never to be returned … Nor does the licensing label require the recipient to provide UMG with any benefit to retain possession.” (The court also found that federal postal laws relating to “unordered merchandise” establish that promo CDs are gifts to their recipients.)

With software vendors, laser printer manufacturers, and patent owners trying to strip consumers of their first sale rights with unilateral labels, licenses, and notices, today’s ruling sets an important precedent holding the line against these efforts (and comes one day after the Supreme Court reaffirmed the same principle in the patent context in Quanta v. LG).

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