In the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, major labels cracked down on retailers carrying import albums as a matter of course—at one point, CBS Records even sued Tower Records over the practice.

For the most part, such import battles have since receded into the background. But a controversy over an Amy Winehouse album is, at least temporarily, putting the issue back in the forefront.

Most merchants Billboard surveyed are saying they'll comply with a letter from Universal Republic that threatens to sue retailers and merchandisers that continue importing and selling import copies of Winehouse's 2003 debut album, "Frank." But other retailers are arguing that, in the age of downloading, it's absurd for a record label to take Universal's approach.

"We are selling physical product that the customers want, and they are trying to stop us," one merchandiser says. "In the meantime, it is flowing freely throughout the world over the Internet through the [peer-to-peer] sites."

Click here to read more on the full debate between merchandisers and the label, why Universal Republic is causing a stir over Winehouse's "Frank," and why Universal Republic's letter is being termed as "bullying."