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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 18:53 GMT
Call for CD importer to be fined
Liam Gallagher of Oasis performs at the Brits
Oasis CDs are alleged to be among CD-Wow's cheap imports
UK music firms are demanding an online retailer be fined by the High Court for breaking its promise not to illegally import CDs into the UK.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) also wants damages and costs from Music Trading Online's website CD-Wow.

CD-Wow says it is the victim of a "policy of protectionism" imposed by the UK record industry.

But one shareholder has agreed the firm broke its 2004 vow and agreed to pay 50,000 to settle the claim.

Philip Robinson accepted that he bore some responsibility for CD-Wow failing to comply with its court undertakings and has also apologised to the record industry.

In 2004, following court action, Music Trading Online agreed in 2004 to stop selling cheap so-called "parallel imports" through its website CD-Wow.

Copyright law prevents legitimate products purchased in one country being imported into another without permission of the owner of the intellectual property rights.

'Flagrant breaches'

But since the ruling several large record firms - such as Sony, Warner and EMI - said the company had sent out top CDs by artists including Robbie Williams, Oasis and Coldplay from Hong Kong to the UK.

"We believe CD-Wow is guilty of flagrant and systematic breaches of a High Court order. The penalties for such breaches can be significant," the BPI's lawyer Roz Groome said.

"Contrary to some reports this case is nothing to do with price. Plenty of retailers manage to sell CDs at competitive prices without breaking the law.

CD-Wow denies deliberately breaking its court undertaking and puts any breach of copyright down to human error.

Instead the Hong Kong-based retailer is now calling for a full review of copyright law which it claims "serves to line the pockets of the music industry at the expense of the consumer" and artists.

It says the music industry "is able to set artificial prices by region in what is simply a policy of protectionism" and warned that if it loses the court case, many other internet retailers could be closed down.

With retail sales of 21.7m in the UK in 2005, CD-Wow was the third largest online music retailer in the UK after Amazon and Play.

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