BBC News online has a considered piece on the court case brought by Universal against an eBay trader who sells promo copies of albums - old ones, like, not unreleased records:
Among the promotional items listed as sold by Mr Augusto, according to the legal brief, are titles of CD singles by Nelly Furtado and rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
We're alarmed by this case - not merely because the only reason music journalists eat is because they flog their unwanted promos down the second hand store, and the suggestion that promotional copies remain the property of record labels threatens that.
No, our concern is the wording of that complaint: Universal aren't objecting to the sale of promo CDs, they're objecting to the violation of its exclusive right to distribute its copyrighted works at all.
In other words, this case looks like something of a stalking horse to try and outlaw the sale of second hand records altogether - after all, if those little stickers saying "Promo copy only - not for resale" are upheld in court, then what about the small print on the CD case that forbids unauthorised sale? Wouldn't someone flogging their own copy of an album on eBay also be "violating UMG's exclusive right to distribute its copyrighted works"?
As large artists choose to seek contracts elsewhere, and new artists increasingly bypass the majors, the big four are going to come to rely more and more on catalogue. They've already moaned in the past about how second-hand sales stops them making any money - sorry, the artists, it's always the artists, making any money. Could they be gearing up for a wider action?
[Thanks to MC Glammer for the link]