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August 30, 1993

As the author of several published books, I am certainly sympathetic with the Michael Greene Counterpunch in which he bemoans the loss of royalties to recording artists and composers whose works are sold on the used-CD market ("Used CD Trade Hurts Lesser-Known Artists," Aug. 23).

However, the reality is that, if you are going to outlaw the sale of used CDs, then you are also going to have to outlaw used-book stores. After all, we writers don't get any royalties for books sold in those stores, nor do we get anything when our publisher decides to remainder our books.

I'm not an attorney, but it's my understanding that, under current copyright law, once a publisher/distributor sells a copy of a copyrighted work, the new owner can dispose of that copy as he sees fit.

Back in the early days of home video, some of the movie distributors tried to circumvent this provision by saying that they were "licensing," not selling, video cassettes of their film to consumers for a certain number of years. The public didn't buy it, and the practice was quickly stopped.

The bottom line is that if the recording industry wants to stop the sale of used CDs, then the place to do it is not in the courts but with Congress and a change in the basic copyright law.



Lesser-known artists are not the ones who will be hurt by used CDs as Greene claims. People are more likely to take a chance on a lesser-known artist if they only have to pay $6.99 instead of the outrageous $15.99 that is charged.

Once the consumer "discovers" the artist, he will be far more likely to buy more CDs by this artist--new and used. (Don't let Greene's description of the used-CD bin fool you: You cannot find the entire catalogue of an artist.)

Greene mentions that Garth Brooks and Bonnie Raitt have come out against used CDs, so why aren't the "cutting edge" and "lesser-known" artists complaining? Simple, they know used CDs will increase their exposure, which can only help them.

No one is being "cheated" out of royalties. If 100 CDs are in consumers' hands, then artists have received royalties on 100 CDs--doesn't that sound fair?

The bottom line is that the music industry has no business telling me what I can do with something that I bought, and no business telling retailers what they can sell.



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