Monday, January 10, 2011

Lent For Promotional Use Only

"Lent for Promotional Use Only. Any Sale or Unauthorized Transfer is Prohibited and Void. Subject to Return Upon Demand by Owner. Acceptance of This Record Constitutes Agreement to the Above."

I always wondered about this statement. Did simply stamping it on a record or CD make it true? Can a record company really claim ownership of something forever just by putting a stamp on it that says it's theirs? Turns out, not so much. From the LA Times:

A Ninth Circuit appeals panel sided with consumer advocates today, upholding a lower court's ruling that a record company couldn't block the resale of used CDs just by marking them as "not for sale."
The case was brought by Universal Music Group against someone who was selling promo CDs on eBay, but the ruling is also good news for used record store owners who no longer have to worry that a rep from UMG is going to show up at their shop to "reclaim" a bunch of promo LPs and CDs. And I can rest a little easier knowing that my white-label promo copy of Richard Lloyd's Alchemy really does belong to me, despite what the stamp says.


Mark said...

A little (probably uninteresting) anecdote: I used to work at a book/music store and received a few of those "promo only" CDs. I remember trying to sell some of them to a used record dealer (probably in about 1994) and he would not purchase them--maybe out of fear that he'd get in trouble for doing so?

Pete Bilderback said...

Hi Mark. I know will not buy any promo items. Most used places will buy them. I know in NYC there were a couple shops on St. Marks Place that always had a ton of promo only CDs. I imagine a lot of industry folks sold their stuff there. There's not nearly as many promo CDs floating around these days, which is why it was kind of interesting to me that this lawsuit happened now.

With CDs, having the promo stamp or a cut through the barcode only seems to diminish value. However, with LPs white label promos are often prized by collectors, because they were typically the first to come off the stamper.

Doug said...

How else are reviewers supposed to eat if they can't sell off the promos to the used CD stores?

(I don't know if reviewers even get CDs anymore; it's probably all online these days. Really feeling old now.)