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CD Users Sue To Stop Copy Protection

27 Jun, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Two CD users have brought a lawsuit against the five major record labels, alleging the copy-protection technologies the labels use on CDs violate consumers' right to time- and space-shift.

The complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges the labels -- Universal Music Group, EMI Music Publishing, BMG Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group -- are deceiving consumers by selling music CDs that are made inferior by the copy protection mechanisms on them.

Recording Industry Association president Cary Sherman called the suit frivolous and clamed the attorneys that filed it are only staking an early claim to potential class action fees.

“Music traders have the right to protect their property from theft just like anyone,” Sherman said, adding the suit attacks “practices that few companies have even engaged in” and asks the recording industry to give up efforts to protect itself from “massive and flagrant” digital piracy.

The companies “conspired and agreed among themselves to sell defective audio discs which were rendered unreproducible or unstable for use in many personal computers, Macintosh computers, compact disc players, digital video disc players, car stereos and digital video game consoles,” the complaint states. “Defendants have affirmatively concealed the fact that their defective audio discs interfre with their customers' legal right to play or transfer music to other playback mediums [and] have collectively misrepresented these defective audio discs as being standard Compact Discs, which they are not.”

Attorneys will seek class action status for the case, which would represent all consumers who bought copy-protected CDs that were not labeled as such. They seek damages of no more than $75,000 per plaintiff and a court order that would force the labels to stop using the anticopying technology, or at least to label protected CDs “in a clear and conspicuous manner” so consumers know what they're buying.

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