WOW, what a scorcher - record damages for record companies

The BBC has just posted news that British Phonographic Industry, which represents the interests of recording companies in the UK, has secured a whopping total of £41 million damages against CD-Wow, following proceedings in which the Hong Kong-based web retailer was found both to have infringed copyright and to have broken contractual undertakings it gave to cease infringing. The quantum works out as £37 million in damages plus interest to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Offhand the IPKat suspects that this may be a new British Record for Copyright Damages. Can anyone confirm?

Meanwhile the war for the hearts and minds of the British public goes on. CD-Wow vows to carry on selling cheap CDs and may appeal: "We are the little guys selling CDs to the UK market and they (the BPI) have picked on us for that reason", says its boss Henrik Wesslen. For BPI, Geoff Taylor disagrees: "CD-Wow is no consumer champion. ... The vibrancy of British music depends on a fair return on the investments that allow British talent to shine. This decision is an important step in ensuring that British music has a bright future".

With UK retail sales of £21.7 million in 2005, CD-Wow was the third largest online music retailer there after Amazon and Play. The company blamed its copyright infringements on "human error", which seems to the IPKat a curious basis upon which to champion the public's right to buy cheap recordings. Merpel is glad to see CD-Wow nailed, since it hasn't exactly done much to boost the local British economy in terms of job-creation or subsidising creativity, but she can't help thinking that British consumers wouldn't have been so keen to shop at CD-Wow if the retail price of CDs in the UK had been as cheap as it was in some other jurisdictions where the same goods were lawfully marketed, such as the US.

Earlier IPKat posts here, here and here
WOW, what a scorcher - record damages for record companies WOW, what a scorcher  -  record damages for record companies Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. Ilanah; where the price of an item in the UK is higher than the price of the same item in the US, the reason can generally be attributed either to the significantly higher cost of land in the UK owing to the severe restrictions on its supply (dating back to Labour's 1947 Town and Country Planning Act), or the UK's membership of the EU with its common external tariff.

  2. Well that argument used to be used, and may have been valid when retail was predominantly bricks and mortar, but in an on-line environment...??

    And the one about a common EU tariff hardly explains why i-tunes etc charge different prices within the EU, for which they are rightly up before the EU competition beak.

    Let's not kid ourselves. It's about charging what the market will bear.

  3. As for the EU market, the true thing is that it's more easy "to carry" each parallel trader to the court than to renounce to the "very big gains" on faces of some European citizens (UK Citizens are often interested on this...).

    EU should obligate by law all companies to demonstrate the reasons of different prices (and packages...) of their products in the EU Member States....

  4. 'Arthurian Legend' wote "the significantly higher cost of land in the UK owing to the severe restrictions on its supply (dating back to Labour's 1947 Town and Country Planning Act)".

    Silly me. Here I was thinking the restricted supply of land in the UK compared to the USA was due to the UK having a population density 8 times that of the USA.

    Regards, Luke


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