Big Five record label EMI is being sued in France over copy protection tech used in many music CDs. A French consumer group, UFC-Que Choisir has filed suit, alleging "deception over the material qualities of a product" since the CDs will not play in some home CD players, car stereos, and PC CD/DVD drives. In addition, the group is upset that the technology used by EMI prohibits consumers from making copies of the music for personal use.
Julien Dourgnon, deputy director of the consumer group, said the ability to make copies for private use – for example by transferring music to a portable MP3 player – was important to many record buyers. "We’re defending that freedom, we’re not defending piracy," he said.
EMI and a retailer also named in the suit responded by pointing out that they inform consumers that the copy-protected CDs could cause problems in some situations and give full refunds to customers unhappy with the CDs. While the potential fines are not steep, any finding against the label could result in their being ordered to take the copy-protected CDs off the market.
It is an odd strategy the record companies have chosen ? irritating their customers by selling them a product that does not work as expected. While the CDs may be clearly labeled, the labels are in effect trying to change nearly 20 years of ingrained behavior: buy a CD, take it home, put it in the stereo, and listen to it. Obviously, if the customers don’t mind putting up with the problems inherent in copy-protected CDs (witness the success of Velvet Revolver’s release, which became the first album with copy protection to hit #1 in the US), then the labels will have no incentive to change their practices.