The U.S. Court of Appeals shot down copyright infringement allegations from Universal Music Group and affirmed an eBay seller's right to resell promotional CDs that he buys from used music and other stores.
In an opinion issued Tuesday, the court held: "UMG transferred title to the particular copies of its promotional CDs and cannot maintain an infringement action against (defendant) Augusto for his subsequent sale of those copies." But the court went further, implying protection for others who have gotten free promo copies and resold them:
The court said that UMG did not maintain control of the CDs once they mailed them out, did not require the recipients to agree to the "conditions" listed on its not-for-sale label, and did not require return of the CDs if the recipient did not consent.
"This ruling frees promotional CDs from the shadow of copyright infringement claims, which is good news for music lovers," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "But it also has broader ramifications. The court flatly rejected the argument that merely slapping a notice on a copyrighted work prevents the work from ever being sold. It eliminates the risk of copyright infringement claims against later recipients -- regardless of whether they paid for the work."