The Belgian consumer group Test Aankoop is going to sue world's largest music companies, including EMI, Universal Music, Sony Music and BMG. The reason for this is because these firms are selling copy protected CDs that won't play on normal car stereos and computers.
The group, known in Dutch as Test-Aankoop and in French as Test-Achats, said it has received more than 200 complaints from consumers who objected to a technology that prevents consumers from making a back-up version on a blank disc and limits playback on certain devices.
Industry observers believe Test-Aankoop's suit is the biggest European legal challenge yet to the music industry's controversial campaign to release copy-protected discs, to minimize the impact that digital piracy is having on sales.
Test-Aankoop cited more than a dozen top-selling releases including Shakira's "Laundry Service" and Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief" that could not be played on multiple devices.
One of the only major music labels that is not named is Warner Music. Test Aankoop said it wants the music labels to end the production of CDs with unfair copy protections, which in some cases don't allow the buyer to play the CD. This sounds stupid isn't it. You buy a CD from your favorite music group and you put it in your PC because you want to transfer the files to your MP3 player. But what do you see, the CD that you have just bought does not work in your personal computer! In this case users are actually forced to download MP3s from the internet if they want to be able to listen to their favorite songs on their PC, or MP3 player. Strange logic isn't it.
Since introducing copy-protection technology two years ago -- typically by embedding a layer of data on the rings of a compact disc that prevents playback on all but a home stereo or portable hi-fi device -- the music industry has been hit with torrents of criticism from individual consumers.
The question of whether consumers are entitled to make back-up copies of music they buy has also become a heated legal debate.
In defense of the technological measures, the music industry says the practice of copying, or "burning," discs is creating a massive black market of online song-swapping that has eaten into sales for three consecutive years.
Test-Aankoop said it had contacted industry trade group the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in the autumn about the consumer concerns.
The IFPI on Monday called the suit baseless. "European law is clear that record companies and other copyright holders have the right to protect their works through technical means," the trade group said in a statement.