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Is Ebay Guilty Of Image Theft?

A Tabberone Exclusive!

August 24, 2007 - San Jose, Calif - In the lastest issue of POWERUP, eBay's quarterly Power Seller newsletter, eBay touts the Holiday Hot List on page 6.

In the FALL 2007 Issue, eBay gives advice on the top 15 "hot" selling items. Included with the list is a picture of Homer Simpson as a radio, NASCAR Barbie, a Webkinz/Lil Kinz plush, a Transformer, and what appears to be a Nintendo Wii. All of these items are trademarked and copyrighted by their different owners.

No where in POWERUP is there any indication that these items are trademarked or that these images were used with the permission of the trademark holder.

Any seller who used pictures in this manner in an auction listing or store listing would be subject to having the listing terminated by the right's holder under the VeRO Program. Why? Because these pictures are not images of the actual item "being offered for sale" and as such would not fall under the "fair use" provisions of trademark or copyright law.

Fair use of these images under copyright law would apply if their use was for non-commercial educational use only. However, we don't believe that an in-house rag like POWERUP qualifies for this exemption because it is for the commercial promotion of activity that will result in more fees for eBay and PayPal. That, in our humble opinion, is not a news item per se but a promtional handout generating profit for eBay.

Since these pictures in POWERUP are not of products being offered for sale (which would be "fair use" under trademark law"), then someone on the eBay staff must have "borrowed" them from an official site or some other source without permission. Possibly from some eBay seller? Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Can we all say, "image theft?".

eBay's own policy on picture theft states:

Item Description and Picture Theft

"eBay members are not allowed to use another eBay user's pictures or descriptions in their listings or About Me pages without the owner's permission."

(Source: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/vero-image-text-theft.html, August 24, 2007)

This policy does not appear to apply to eBay or the eBay staff.

Perhaps eBay should trademark another slogan:

Do As eBay Says; Not As eBay Does


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