Site Policies

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  • Movie and Music "Promotional" Items

    How do you know if you're violating copyright laws when you're selling or buying promotional items? To find out, look at the guidelines listed below. not allowing these items on the site protects you from liability and helps make a safe place for trading. Selling or buying any of these items could put you at risk for civil or criminal liability. Your listing also could be ended early and you could be suspended from

    What is a "promotional" item?

    Some companies distribute so-called "promotional copies" of movies or musical works for publicity purposes before their release to the general public. For example, movie studios distribute posters, electronic press kits or "EPKs," "demo" or "screener" videos and 35mm movie trailers (previews) to theaters or video stores. Record companies often distribute "promo" CDs to radio stations to encourage air play of their music. (In the past, record companies distributed LP and 45 speed records for this purpose.) The comments below do not apply to promotional items given out or sold to consumers, such as a free "Austin Powers" T-shirt given out by a video store or a toy given away by McDonald's with a purchase.

    Does policy prohibit the listing of movie and music promo items?

    No, policy does not specifically prohibit the listing of promotional items, but you should be aware that the listing of many such items is a copyright infringement. We are providing this information to assist you in protecting yourself from offering infringing promotional items and trading safely on

    Why can't I sell most promotional items?

    Each promotional item is a copyrighted work. When they initially are distributed they are not sold . They technically remain the property of the record company or the studio that distributed them. The radio stations, movie theatres, etc. that receive them are only licensed to use the promo materials for limited promotional purposes. They are prohibited from selling them or giving them away; the materials themselves often state right on them "not For Sale." Demo videos are given to video stores so they can decide how many copies of a particular video title they want to buy. Such demo or "screener" videos often say on the package and on screen "not for Sale or Rental." Movie studios virtually never permit the sale of movie trailers. If your item has such warning language it is probably an infringement to list it on Sale or distribution of "awards" videos, such as Academy Awards or Emmy Awards promotional "screeners," is considered by movie and television studios to be a copyright infringement.

    I'm not a radio station or theatre. Why can't I sell promotional music and movie items?

    Since the radio stations and movie theatres never own the promo items they receive, they are not theirs to sell or give away. Anyone who later possesses a copy, can't sell them either. This is true even if you bought the item from someone or the item is very old, as long its still protected by copyright laws. (The length of copyright protection probably will be at least 50 years from the date the song or movie was first released.)

    Many copyright owners don't care about sales of promo items, so why can't I sell them?

    It is true that many copyright owners don't enforce their rights in this area. For example, promo CDs can be found in used CD stores with some regularity. However, it is still an infringement to sell them and many copyright owners do care and enforce in this area. Listing such items could result in the ending of your listing if a user reports the items as infringing their rights.

    What About the Berne Convention?

    Some users have written to us asking whether the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the "Berne Act") allows them to list an otherwise infringing item. The short answer is "no." The Berne Convention is an international treaty that the United States agreed to in 1989. By signing the Berne Convention, the U.S. committed to making certain changes to its copyright law. In fact, even before signing the Berne Convention, the U.S. had made all the necessary changes to its law. The Berne Convention itself is not U.S. law and does not excuse activity which otherwise would violate U.S. copyright law.

    If you have questions regarding listing of promotional items, contact the relevant company to see if your items can be sold or bought without risk of infringement. You might also contact the Recording Industry Association of America or the Motion Picture Association of America for more information.

    For more information

    Recording Industry Association of America

    Motion Picture Association of America
    U.S. Copyright Office
    U.S. Trademark Office
    U.S. Law on Copyrights
    Findlaw - General Law
    Avoiding Trademark, Patent and Copyright Problems (Franklin Pierce Law Center)

    FACE (Friends of Copyright Education)

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