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Belgian consumer watchdog sues major record labels

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 03 Jan 2004 13:42 User comments (7)

Belgian consumer watchdog, Test-Achats, has sued four out of five world's largest record labels in Belgium. The lawsuit is filed against the EMI, Sony, BMG and Universal because these companies have released so-called copy protected audio CDs in Belgium that fail to work in various CD players, including many leading-brand car stereos and home PCs.
Group says that consumers acting in good faith were victims of an ill-designed attempt by the big record labels to stop piracy. Virtually all CD copy-protection mechanisms function in the same way -- they "break" the standard CD audio disc by artificially manufactured "scratches" or other similiar mechanisms. Regular home CD players typically ignore such "problems" with the disc, since their purpose is to produce music out of audio CDs, not to read the CD 100 percent exactly. But the problems start piling up with computer CD-ROM drives that are meant for totally different purpose; to read 1:1 the data that is stored on the disc -- everybody knows that programs or data files stored on CDs have to be read exactly right in order for them to work. But the problem is that for many consumers, PC is a multimedia device, just like a home stereo, that is meant to play movies and audio CDs correctly. And to make things worse, many "stand-alone" CD player manufactures use nowadays same parts that are used in CD-ROM drives and therefor such CD players aren't capable of handling these "copy protected" discs either.

Test-Achats also points out that virtually all the European countries allow copies of audio CDs to be made for personal use and copy protection mechanisms introduced by record labels intervene with this right.

More information:

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7 user comments

14.1.2004 11:24

Nice to see an official source finally taking action. Weve been talking about a lawsuit like this ever since these issues started to hit the headlines. Now someone is finally prepared to give it a shot. Since this is a european agency suing multinational - USA based - companies, where will the actual trial take place? If they go to court that is.

24.1.2004 14:07

I assume that they've sued record labels' Belgian branch or European branch and that the matter will be handled in Belgium.


Petteri Pyyny (pyyny@twitter)
Webmaster
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34.1.2004 21:04

Love the idea that there is a bit of get back within this. The idea of sueing your customer base has been struck me as being a particularly smart business move. Much hanky-panky has went on behind the scenes to arrive at the present day situtation we have today. One I guess that sticks in my craw was the Walt Disney case where they went after lengthening the time copywrite is private domain. I understand that they are particularly interested in saving ownership of the "Mickey Mouse" trademark and all that goes with it. What happened was that the length of time now that a copywrite or trademark can be held goes beyond the normal life span of people. Meaning that if it was popular in the 20's those folks will be dead and gone that it meant something to before the time runs out and it becomes public domain.

45.1.2004 5:25

It's about time that the record companies were brought to book over this as "The product must do what it is intended to do under it's usage discription and what the manufacturer claims it does" ie play music. In the UK we have the, Trade Descriptions Act, and this is one of definitions that any product sold to the general public must comply to, not a lot to ask for really, If i wanted a cd that would not play i could make one myself, as i am quite good at that! Walt disney are guilty of double standards when it suits them, i saw a programme that involved the family of the creator of winnie the poo, they sold certain rights to walt disney for films/cartoons but disney produced loads of spin off products like toys etc and did not ask for permission to do so, a classic case of, "Do as i say not as i do".

55.1.2004 8:29

Geeze. I need to start doing proof-reading before hitting the button. Half of my previous statements don't make sense in light of a new day. I won't get started on my favorite soap box of the RIAA as this is the wrong forum for it. But as you mentioned for Disney, the mouthpiece for the major labels is well known for the double stanard. They were instrumental in seeing that the DMCA was included in most music cd's. Love the idea that someone is saying if you are going to make it and include it, make sure it works or tell folks straight up that it is included in the package (because it may make problems for the buyer). Knowing that it doesn't work in all applications, they have known for a long time and it is what they want. Being hauled to task for the practice and not saying anything is just too great...

66.1.2004 21:10
vudoo
Inactive

It is down right froad when you buy a device and suddenly there are restrictions within normal use that require you to purchase a different sort of CD player. Oh and what about those people like myself who have a home theater system and I use a combo DVD/CD player? I have a right to continue to enjoy my CD's in my player just as I've always done for years. And I think that everyone who ever bought a copy-protected CD without their knowledge and it refused to play under normal conditions (not copying) should get over a million dollars from the record company for froad and extortion. A small buliness person would never get away with a stunt remotely as this. Voodoohippie

714.1.2004 4:55
Rodgers
Inactive

I think this is a winnig position for Test-Achats and concur with most of what has been said. Best to all! Rodgers

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