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If you have received a promo CD or - if this case is successful - some other promo item, you'd better not throw it away, as it would be piracy.

In a brief filed in federal court yesterday, 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.

This revelation came in a brief for summary judgment filed by UMG against Troy Augusto. Augusto (aka Roast Beast Music Collectibles, eBay handle roastbeastmusic) buys collectible promo CDs at used record stores around Los Angeles and resells them on eBay. UMG sued him last year, claiming that the "promotional use only" labels on the CDs mean that UMG owns them forever and that any resale infringes copyright. EFF took Augusto's case to fight for the proposition that a copyright owner can't take away a consumer's first sale rights just by putting a label on a CD.

We would be interested in knowing what our readers think.  For example, we have given away (to charity) promo items in the past; this would make such acts a crime.

Crisis Causer

It's complete bs, quite simply. They don't still own it. They can't just put on a sticker on something, then send it out, and then sue.

I've gotten CD and DVDs with computer hardware that says not for resale, and I never have sold them, but would I be liable for lawsuit if I did?

Universal Music Group = the anti-christ? Stay tuned for more...

However!!! And a big however!! Look at his ebay profile:

He's selling TONS of promotional CDs. He might well be making a living off it. So I do see some justification.

No worries for you kind folks at HotHardware. This isn't a precedent against giving away gifts for free... but for people who make a living selling tons of promotional only items.


The (in)justice system is constantly being flooded by a never ending torrent of frivolous and ridiculous lawsuits. I guess the salaried staff of lawyers employed by UMG got bored with incessantly prosecuting children and old ladies for allegedly illegal music downloads and decided to spice things up a bit.

If they want to claim sole eternal ownership over their promotional CDs, then it is ultimately their responsibility to reclaim them from whomever they are initially distributed to.

I suppose the means by which Augusto has come to possess such quantities of these CDs determines the validity of their case. If he procured them directly from UMG through deceitful methods and at no expense then UMG may be justified in their lawsuit. If however, he bought them second hand as he claims, then through this lawsuit they are attempting to pass on the blame for what is a result of their own ineptitude at keeping tabs on UMG property.

If UMG is so concerned about what people do with their promotional CDs, maybe they should just forgo making and distributing any additional ones.

This whole thing is asinine. Apparently UMG hasn't heard of things becoming collectible.
he's selling them, not giving them for free, that my friends is piracy.