NARAS backs distribs in used-CD fight

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has jumped into the used-CD fray, announcing Wednesday it has decided to support the stance taken by record distributors to challenge retailers who sell the used discs.

The move by NARAS comes on the heels of several highly publicized lawsuits brought by retailers challenging distributors’ decision to withhold cooperative advertising funds or refuse to sell new CDs to stores that carry used ones.

NARAS president Mike Greene said the academy decided to enter the used-CD controversy in an effort to help “protect its members’ livelihood.” NARAS membership is composed mainly of artists, songwriters and producers.

“It’s not just Garth anymore,” says Greene, referring to Garth Brooks, who ignited the used-CD issue by insisting his label, Liberty, and distributor CEMA not sell his new release, “In Pieces,” to stores that carry used discs.

The decision sparked a flurry of antitrust lawsuits, the largest brought by 339-store chain Wherehouse Entertainment, which sells used CDs in more than 280 of its outlets.

“If retailers continue to be insensitive to the needs of the creative community,” says Greene, “the alternative will be that labels will accelerate their interest in direct delivery systems,” implying that retailers may eventually be cut out of the sales loop entirely.

Greene believes legislation is inevitable if a compromise cannot be reached with retailers. “We will not sit idly by while retailers turn their backs on the creative community.”

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