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Don Burleson Blog 









eBay and illegal ebook/software downloads

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson


Illegal sales of e-books has always been a problem online, and as the author of over 30 books I'm always saddened to see thieves openly selling scanned electronic copies of my books.  However, the problem is such an epidemic that I've almost given-up trying.  For example, this eBay seller has 70 illegal download auctions running, including McGraw-Hill book auctions for one of my Oracle books.

If you are a publisher or author and find crooks selling copies of your product online, it can be maddeningly difficult to get eBay to help you.  This ZDNET publication suggests that eBay needs to be shut down:

"Although I have made only 7 purchases on eBay, FOUR have resulted in either FAKE or useless products being shipped. The last purchase was software, guaranteed legit, valid serial, valid certificate of authenticity and a holographic CD straight from MS. What I got looked legit until I tried to register with MS.

MS aid software was PIRATE software ! I informed eBay and was told they would handle the problem.. Three weeks later the vendor is still selling the same stuff."

See this lawsuit article which suggests that the illegal sales problem is an epidemic and that you must hire an attorney and sue each and every seller of your intellectual property:

"We conservatively estimate that over 90 percent of software sold on eBay is being sold illegally . . Currently eBay lists an average of about 89 million different items for sale on its site, and 6 million new items are added each day" 

Some companies such as Tiffany are trying to stop sales of counterfeit merchandise, but instead of tracking hundreds of bad guys, they are suing eBay:

"The legendary Manhattan jewelry store Tiffany and Co., now a global entity, charges that eBay is complicit in this illegal activity by facilitating and participating in counterfeiting and trademark infringement of Tiffany's trademarks. . .

Then, one must keep in mind eBay also profits from these sales. This means eBay profits directly from illegal activities. It wouldn't be too far a leap to suggest the company doesn't have a vested interest in stopping these sales as long as they continue to profit from them.

While eBay wouldn't expressly support illegal activities, charges have been made for years that various forms of fraud, fencing and other illegal activities go on there. eBay's "hands off" policy makes it easy to conduct these business dealings."

As of 2006, the Tiffany case is still pending, and the charge that eBay is facilitating criminal sales of counterfeit goods because they receive hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the criminals, may set a precedent:

"The legal question - whether eBay is a facilitator of fraud - is a critical issue that could affect not only eBay's future, but Internet commerce generally, said Thomas Hemnes, a lawyer in Boston who specializes in intellectual property.

"If eBay lost, or even if they settled and word got out that they settled, it would mean they would have to begin policing things sold over eBay, which would directly affect their business model," Hemnes said. "The cost implied is tremendous."

 . . . "The majority of things that appear on eBay are fakes," said Joel Garzoli, an art gallery owner in San Rafael. "

Using VeRO to protect your property

Many victims of knock-off counterfeits say that your only hope is the eBay VeRO program.  Also, you can check the seller's eBay sale history to see how many he sold, and who he sold them to.  Here is the feedback list of people who have purchased stolen copies of my books.

References on eBay counterfeiting policy



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