Putting uninvited objects on store shelves; crime?

As a music composer with CDs, I am sometimes struck by the asinine idea of putting my own CD onto the shelf of CDs for sale in a bookstore (slipping it in among the other CDs) and then coming back weeks later to see what has become of it, or just out of curiosity to see what the bookstore would do with it. They obviously can’t sell it, but I wonder if they would just discard it or be confused.
Now, I wouldn’t actually do this, of course. But the real question is, is this a crime? It’s kind of like the…opposite of shoplifting. You’re not sneaking an object out of the store, you’re sneaking an uninvited (but harmless) object in. Is there a legal category for this?

I’d imagine it would sit in the backroom for a few weeks while everyone asks everyone else about it trying to figure out where it came from. After that, when everyone is thoroughly confused, it’ll probably get thrown out (or an employee will take it home) or tossed on a discount rack for 99¢

If it could be proven that you were doing it an attempt to get the store to sell or distribute it, I’d image there could be some type of civil issue. I want to say you’d be depriving them of income, but if they did actually sell it, ALL the money would be profit.
My guess, if you did it more than once and the store got annoyed, they’d have you trespassed.

Probably not a crime. Would you be charged by leaving your wallet on a shelf? However, I’ve heard of people tampering with merchandise (e.g. putting their own photo in photo frames), which I do think could probably get you in trouble.

Why couldn’t they sell it? You gave it to them. They could keep it, throw it away or sell it.

Well, if a customer brought it to be scanned at the checkout counter, there’d be no bar code or product ID.

There’s a difference between accidentally leaving something behind and purposely putting something on the shelf in an attempt to get people to look at it, assume the store is selling it, attempt to buy it etc.

Its fairly easy to generate and print a UPC that will match to an in stock product. It wont match on the receipt, but your average walmart cashier probably wont notice. If it was more than a couple it will create an epic shitstorm for the UPC Clerk/inventory people (items selling more than quantity on hand will trip exception reports).

I’m guessing the law varies by jurisdiction, but wouldn’t this be littering?

Why not just hand out your CDs to people who might enjoy listening? I had a guy approach me on a Caribbean beach and ask if I’d like to listen to his music. He handed me a CD, we chatted for a bit, I bought him a beer and he rolled a spliff that we shared.

When my gf returned from swimming, I introduced my new friend and she recognized him as the lead singer in the St Martin reggae/soca band Barbwire. They were playing that night at The Blue Martini and he invited us to be his guests. Oh, what a night that was!

So, OP the next time you are out somewhere with people who might like your music, pass out your CDs!

For clarification:

  1. I do give out my CDs to people - friends, people whom I am networking with in the music field, etc.

  2. If I were to put a CD of my own on a bookstore (which I’ve already said I won’t, since it would be an asinine thing to do,) it would be as a prank or joke, not as a serious attempt to market myself.

I would! :slight_smile: I work in a second-hand bookstore, where we also have the occasional vinyls and CD:s for sale. Lots of the stuff isn’t registered (yet – we’re making slow progress!) and if anyone wants to buy it, I’d just charge five bucks and be happy! You’re welcome! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Since OP doesn’t explicitly limit his question to music CD items, one might ask the same question about other sorts of merchandise.

Consider foodstuffs in a grocery store: If someone were to slip a consumable item onto a grocery store shelf, and it were discovered, I can imagine it would cause considerable consternation. If the perpetrator were caught, their might by many questions asked of him.

I don’t know if there is a law covering this (Does anyone here know?) but I’d bet the authorities would not be amused.

[Mitch Hedberg]
See, this CD is in stores. The only way I could get my old CD into a store is if I were to take one in and leave it. Then the guys says “Sir, you forgot this!” "No, I did not. That is for sale. Please alphabetize it.
[/Mitch Hedberg]

I’ve thought about doing his with my books – but they cost me too much.

I have left my book marks in places. And the few times I’ve seen my books out, I’ve moved them to more prominent locations.

My guess is you haven’t heard of the Yes Men and Barbie Liberation Army (BLO)!

In the 80s someone put poison in Tylenol capsules and put them back on the shelf and 7 people died.
No one was ever caught for that. That’s why all drug boxes are now glued shut and also the bottles have seals on them.

Chicago Tylenol murders - Wikipedia

I have left my books in a bookstore, in the appropriate place. I went back a couple of weeks later to see if it was still there, and it was. So I pulled it out–and now it had the bookstore’s sticker on it. So I don’t know if it was the same book, or if someone bought the book, they thought “Hm, no sticker and we don’t have any more so let’s order one,” or if someone checked the shelves for stickers, saw there wasn’t one, and added it.

The long story: I had a signing at a Barnes & Noble, where they had ordered a carton of books which didn’t arrive. The customer relations person called me a couple of hours before the signing and asked if perhaps they’d sent the books to my house, or in any case did I have any, so I went around to a couple of other bookstores and bought all the copies I could find, which was like, eight copies, and that’s what I had for the signing. A couple of days later the carton that was supposed to go to B&N ended up on my front porch, addressed to me. FWIW I lived on the same street as the B&N, about five miles south of it to be sure–but the same street. So I had 50 books to get rid of, so leaving a couple in a bookstore didn’t cost a thing.* BTW I tried to unload some of those books at the B&N and even though I had sold out at my signing (whooee, eight copies!), they only wanted two of them.

*Perhaps if I actually read my royalty statement I would have found out differently. Ignorance can be bliss.

If you’re somewhere with anything resembling local bookstores, try asking them. I see CD’s from local bands in the stores here sometimes.

In San Francisco, California US, I saw buskers with stacks of CDs for sale. (I was a busker there before cassette tapes so I couldn’t even sell those.) In Jerez, Zacatacas MX, local bands cluster their instruments around the town plaza, guarded by one player soliciting weekend gigs for parties, rodeos, weddings etc with a boombox blasting CDs stacked for sale. I saw a shoeshine stand customer there “serenaded” by a sax player standing WAY too close. Buy his CD so he’ll go away! Maybe that’s the secret for distributing one’s music.

That’s a common street scam in big cities. A guy approaches you on the street and says “Hey Man! I bet you like [insert genre of music]” and shoves a CD in your hand. Then he continues “My brother is forming a new band and I’m trying to get his music out to people like you. Take a listen… Say could you help out my brother with a few bucks?”

The rube feels guilty and hands the guy some cash. Of course, the CD turns out to be blank.

People who spend much time downtown know to just turn away or give the CD back or just drop it on the street if the guy won’t take it back.