How to legally sell CDs

By | April 12, 2021

Know what you are selling


Know what you are selling. Real bootlegs – with their hand-printed or blurred, photocopied sleeves – are easy to spot. But look at pirated copies of legitimate or promotional CDs, which record companies give away to build audiences for new releases. First check the bottom of the disc. If you see a light green or non-silver reflective surface, be sure to handle a home-made copy.


Do not stop the inspection with the bottom of a disc. As noted in the eBay seller ‘Guide To Spot Fake CDs’, the technology now enables direct printing of homemade labels directly on a CD. However, another clue will help. Check if a directory number is written on the inner ring. If the number is missing or does not match the item you want, it is probably pirated.

If you use an online system to sell music, submit a report to the person who tried to upload their pirated copies. Complaints can lead to other buyers being fraudulent and damaging confidence in how a particular online service works. Be concise and specific about facts so that other buyers can weigh the risk of doing business with a particular seller.

Know your rights


Review all applicable laws, e.g. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is the most comprehensive intellectual property law. While the ‘first sale’ doctrine protects the sale of previously owned or promotional CDs, it does not extend to home-recorded compilations of various songs, for which you normally have to show some form of copyright holdings.


Review legal issues that may affect your business. A federal court ruling in the fall of 2008 upheld the right to sell promotional CDs through the first sales doctrine, which allows owners to send their copies, within certain guidelines. Many states have responded by adopting detailed laws of their own. In Florida, for example, new dealers must apply for a permit and post a $ 10,000 bond, according to


Double check with your local consumer affairs department before you become a street vendor. Every municipality is different, for example New York does not need to require special licensing for so-called ‘First Amendment’ products, such as books, newspapers, CDs and works of art. However, a tax-free stamp is required and the places are strictly regulated. Failure to follow these laws may result in the arrest and confiscation of your goods.


Join local traders’ associations, supplier groups or chambers of commerce in your area. two things. First, you will interact with other people like yourself and exchange tips and ideas. You also get access to resources that fall outside your mailbox, such as procedures for reining in rogue vendors or stores that remain in CD piracy.

Tips and warnings

Talk to other sellers or online sellers about any problems you may encounter. There is nothing like learning the trade from a veteran salesperson to get the right foundation. Check online for postcards or forums where relevant issues are discussed.

  • Read magazines that cover digital media and technology, such as Wired, as legal precedents – and the laws they inspire – are constantly changing. Ignorance is generally not considered a defense against copyright litigation.
  • Selling CDs has become more difficult than ever. In an age where recorded sound is increasingly being expressed through non-traditional means – such as mobile phones and online stores – there is more responsibility than ever for people who want to benefit from selling music. Whether you sell CDs on the street or take the online auction route, you are still responsible for any copyright infringement. Knowing the basics is the key to eliminating problems.