Sophie B. Hawkins won a $346 judgment in a Santa Monica (Calif.) court April 13 against an eBay merchant who sold promotional copies of her new CD "Wilderness," which is not due in record stores until
NASHVILLE and LOS ANGELES--For Sophie B. Hawkins, riding her bike to small claims court was worth the trouble.
The artist won a $346 judgment in a Santa Monica (Calif.) court April 13 against an eBay merchant who sold promotional copies of her new CD "Wilderness," which is not due in record stores until April 20.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roberta Kyman ruled in Hawkins' favor after the defendant failed to appear in court.
"There is a certain poetry to it," Hawkins tells ELW. "Because this was what it was and I need all the money I can get, I could've gone for copyright infringement and get as much as I could."
But Hawkins insists money was not the issue. "This is really about my fans being ripped off, paying $300 for something they could get in stores for $9-something on April 20," she says.
Rather than spend months or more in federal court chasing copyright infringement charges, Hawkins wrapped the matter up quickly with a couple of court appearances.
She first learned a promo copy of her yet-to-be-released new album was available on eBay last December, when a fan notified Hawkins' webmaster, who alerted Hawkins' manager, Gigi Gaston.
Ultimately, Hawkins had decided to record and release the album on her own Trumpet Swan imprint, investing her life savings in the project. "Then here comes a guy selling it for $300," she says. "I had to sell 80,000 (copies) to break even."
Hawkins says the eBay seller had somehow obtained a promo copy of her album. A fan bought the CD for $300 and sent it to Hawkins. EBay shut down the online auction of Hawkins' property after being alerted that the copies were not intended for sale.
The seller was then served with a cease-and-desist letter from Hawkins' attorney, Gary Stiffleman. But the seller skirted eBay and sold two more copies for $12 each.
Hawins sent the fan who bought the CD their money back, along with promotional collectibles from the release and the CD that was stolen. She doesn't really expect to collect the $348 award. "The judge will serve him, but she basically said 'good luck'," she says. "I feel like I made my point."
"Wilderness" will be the first album released on Hawkins' Trumpet Swan label. She recorded the album, including the new track "Beautiful Girl," from her home studio in Venice, Calif. She will tour to support the project, booked by Bruce Houghton at Skyline Music.