One website under the watchful eye this week is CD-Wow, which is owned by Music Trading Online. CD Wow, which has five million UK customers, sources its product directly from official record company suppliers around the world. The CDs - from artists including Robbie Williams, Radiohead, Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Oasis - are genuine, but their sale in Britain breaches copyright laws.
The United Kingdom is particularly upset because copyright law prevents music being imported from outside Europe without the consent of the copyright owner. Not to mention CDs cost around 6-7 pounds each on the website when they would be over 10 if purchased in the UK at a store.
The decision by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) to challenge CD Wow, a music retailer, over the practice would set a precedent that could affect other websites that use similar tactics. The BPI accuses the internet company of importing the goods without the permission of the owner of the intellectual property rights. It says that there have been 39 cases where copyright law has been breached.
The CD-Wow business has at all material times been a very substantial concern. As at 2002 it was supplying some 10,000 units per day to the UK market. It is currently the second biggest player in the online music buying market in the UK.
Having 5 million customers goes to show that they're doing something right, and if business is booming and it's possible to still make money off selling CDs at that price, maybe the industry in the United States could learn a thing or two.