Music merchandisers sue Sony over CD links

Association upset over promotional software, inserts

HOLLYWOOD — The National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment and its parent, Sony Corp. of America, over the embedding in Sony CDs of hyperlinks to Sony Web sites.

In the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, NARM claims Sony is forcing retailers to carry CDs that contain not only music but software (in the form of hyperlinks) and promotional inserts that direct consumers to retail locations owned or operated by Sony.

NARM alleges Sony has engaged in copyright misuse, unfair competition, false advertising and illegal price discrimination by favoring its own record club (Columbia House) and online music retailer (CD Now).

No exclusion option

The hyperlinks themselves aren’t the problem. Indeed, many retailers enhance their own Web sites via negotiated hyperlinks to other sites.

But, explained Compact Disc World prexy David Lang, “We object to not having the option of buying CDs without these hyperlinks.” And he noted that “the links come embedded in selected enhanced CDs, and their presence is never, ever communicated to retailers.”

A Sony Music spokesperson told Daily Variety, “We are not in a position to comment, as we have not received the complaint yet.”

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