UC Law Journal


Carla M. Miller


The development and introduction of audio compact disc technology into the consumer market has been an enormous commercial success. Due to its relatively low production cost, convenient packaging, and near indestructibility, the compact disc has virtually rendered traditional recording media obsolete. In mid-1993 several music retailers announced their intent to capitalize on the most attractive characteristic of the compact disc-its durability-by actively promoting a resale market for used CDs. The retailers' practice of selling used CDs is protected by the "first sale" doctrine of federal copyright law and currently represents a windfall for them since resold goods fall outside copyright law royalty provisions.

The author argues that, although the first sale doctrine may have protected copyright holders adequately during the era of more volatile recording media, the resale of used CDs without remuneration to the artists circumvents the policies underlying the Copyright Act and the Record Rental Act of 1984. The author proposes modifications to federal copyright law that will offer the broader protection necessary for copyright holders who choose to distribute their creative products on non-volatile media such as the compact disc.

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